Religious Discrimination Bill fails in Senate
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No 2, 11 March 2022, page no.15
The QTU was proud to stand with the wider community when Citipointe Christian College unexpectedly launched a new enrolment contract for students and families.
The contract, which compared homosexuality with paedophilia and bestiality, was condemned by Minister Grace and other community leaders.
The timing, in the week before the federal government’s Religious Discrimination Bill was due to be discussed in Parliament, was seen by some as an ill-planned stunt to try to garner support for the divisive legislation. The QTU proudly supported the snap rallies decrying the Citipointe contract and upholding the rights of all students to be welcomed, supported and valued by their school communities, regardless of their gender identity or sexuality.
Now defeated in the Senate, it is hoped that the bill is truly dead and buried. The move to introduce it was downright duplicitous and unnecessary and goes against the will of the people. Let us not forget that the federal government only moved to adopt marriage equality after the unnecessary national plebiscite (we all recall the hurtful and unnecessary conservative public commentary and the impact that had). As many of you know, the results of the publicity were affirming. Our nation spoke loudly and clearly – overwhelmingly most Australians supported marriage equality.
For more than 10 years, the QTU has worked to make schools safer and more inclusive for the LGBTIQ+ community: staff and teachers, our students and their families. While the Safe Schools Australia program became a political football at the expense of the mental health of our young queer people in schools, many stakeholders, including the QTU, continued to lobby and advocate, providing professional development for teachers and ensuring there were clear policy documents to support students, administers, teachers and parents.
The Queensland College of Teachers worked with all education stakeholders, including universities, to ensure that the inherent need for support and understanding for LGBTIQ+ students in schools is understood and adopted. Here in Queensland, it is important that schools understand there is a legislative framework underpinning this work; Queensland’s anti-discrimination legislation and now our Human Rights Act.
The Department of Education is explicit in its policy and has clear guidelines and documents for students, their families, and principals. Is it perfect? No, but we have come a long, long way in the state system, and the work of the QTU was recognised when we were invited to UNESCO to talk about the role that teacher unions can play in making schools safer for young people with diverse genders and sexualities.
There is a wide range of peer reviewed research (not just internet searches) that, without any doubt, show just how crucial the positive role schools and individual teachers play is in keeping young queer people safe. “Writing Themselves in 4” from “Blues to Rainbows, The Trans Pathways Reports”, and the work of Dr Tiffany Jones provide heartbreaking and compelling insights into the experiences of young people in educational settings. When we know better, we must do better.
As a Union, we are proud to have a standing committee of LGBTIQ+ members, school leaders, teachers and educators who all proudly identify as part of the community, and we were chuffed to accept a nomination in the 2021 Queensland Trans Awards.
What Citipointe and those with extreme religious views seek to do is to “other” the human experience. Any time human beings are othered for being who they are, it is a massive red flag for extremism, bigotry and hate. Those traits have no place in schools.
The research and papers listed in the article can be found at https://www.qtu.asn.au/lgbtiqplus/lgbtiq-resources-teachers