How Religious Policies Can Harm The Queer Community

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Two weeks ago the Pentecostal independent Citipointe Christian school sent out a contract that could have students expelled based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual activity.

The contract was pulled following a huge public backlash.

Now another private Sydney school has come under fire for a similar statement on faith for any kid that enrols.

And experts are becoming increasingly concerned that policies of this kind will become more common.

Generational Changes

Kylie Gwynne, Board Co-Chair at Rainbow Families said, “for those of us that are older, we grew up where this was just normal, that we, it was normal to hate and to hurt and to discriminate against, LGBTQ+ people. And we don’t want that for young people now.”

“So many of my contemporaries are still suffering with internalised hatred and homophobia and phobia because of what they have been raised with and that we don’t want this for this next generation of kids. We want them to grow up knowing how fabulous they are and how loved they are.”

“I look at young people today and the commitment and love of each other’s diversity and difference and embracing of that and think that that that’s our future and the people who don’t wanna come on board with that, they need to shut up. Leave our kids alone, leave us alone,” Gwynne said.

The Religious Discrimination Bill

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reintroduced the religious discrimination bill to Parliament just months out from the upcoming federal election.

The aim of the bill is to stop discrimination against people for religious reasons.

But ever since it was introduced advocates against the bill have pointed out that it could do more harm than good to the queer community, like religious institutions having the right to only hire candidates based on their religious beliefs.

Just this week the federal government said they will amend the bill so that children are protected from being expelled from school based on their sexuality.

But the amendment has only specified gay students and falls short of protecting transgender students who could still be expelled, despite ScoMo promising to prevent discrimination against a student on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.

How Damaging These Kinds of Policies Are On Young People

It’s policies like these and the contract at Citipointe, that can be extremely damaging to young people.

Kylie Gwynne noted that “the kids and the families at that school they will inevitably have been harmed by this. It is appalling and, disgusting to put those things in writing and demand that in order for a child to remain enrolled in a school that they sign a contract denying who they are. Why on earth would we want to expand the capacity for religious organisations to spread hate and bigotry against LGBTQ+ people and families.”

What Can We Expect Next?

The Bill passed the lower house after a tense all-night Parliament session.

Five Liberal MPS even crossed the floor to support a Labor and crossbench amendment to have stronger protections to include transgender students.

Currently, the fate of the bill hangs in the balance as ScoMo struggles to deliver on this election promise.

But what this bill shows us and other legislation like the 2016’s Safe Schools program or One Nation’s proposed amendment to the Parental Rights Bill in 2020 is that children are getting caught in an ideological firestorm that is harmful in Australia’s long battle for equality.