School by school, activists pick off targets

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The 16-page policy dealt with a range of issues, including matters relating to gender and sexuality. Photo: Iakov Filimonov
The 16-page policy dealt with a range of issues, including matters relating to gender and sexuality. Photo: Iakov Filimonov

The experience of one Brisbane Christian school targeted by radical gender activists is illuminating about what the future may very well hold.

Did Citipointe Christian College single-handedly blow up any chance we had of getting the Religious Discrimination Bill across the line during this term of parliament?

Many people I have spoken to this week would answer ‘yes,’ but I disagree. Citipointe did us a favour, because the saga surrounding the school exposed the political charade that has been played for too long when it comes to the protection of people of faith in this country.

This Religious Discrimination Bill set to be debated in federal parliament this week tells schools and other religious institutions that if they want to continue to run their schools while upholding traditional beliefs around life and marriage, gender and sexuality, they need a publicly available policy that sets out the religious teaching on these issues and explains how the policy will be enforced in the school. Without a publicly available policy, schools will not be able to rely on the protections contained in the legislation.

“In its Statement of Faith, the policy also declared that any form of sexual immorality including adultery, pre-marital sex, homosexual acts, bestiality, incest, paedophilia, and pornography is sinful and offensive to God and is destructive to human relationships and society.”

Presumably anticipating the passage of the bill, Citipointe revised its student enrolment policy and sent it to parents. The 16-page policy dealt with a range of issues, including matters relating to gender and sexuality.

The policy said that the school would treat children based on biological sex when it came to enrolment, uniforms, sporting teams, bathroom use and pronouns and that those who could not abide by this could have their enrolment terminated, ie be expelled.

In its Statement of Faith, the policy also declared that any form of sexual immorality including adultery, pre-marital sex, homosexual acts, bestiality, incest, paedophilia, and pornography is sinful and offensive to God and is destructive to human relationships and society.

Any communications director worth their salt would have seen that lumping the sins of pre-marital sex and homosexual acts with the crimes of bestiality, incest and paedophilia was a bad idea (each of which are crimes as well as sins) was a dumb idea, but the backlash wasn’t really about that. Instead, people appeared most angry at the claim that homosexual acts are sinful and destructive to human relationships and society.

Supporters and members of the LGBTQI+ community stand outside Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane after the Christian College revised its student enrolment policy which included matters relating to gender and sexuality. Photo: AAP Image/Jono Searle
Supporters and members of the LGBTQI+ community stand outside Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane after the Christian College revised its student enrolment policy which included matters relating to gender and sexuality. Photo: AAP Image/Jono Searle

I acknowledge that the policy read more like it was drafted by Israel Folau than a Christian educator. However, the school did exactly what it was being told to do under the proposed religious discrimination bill, that is, to have a publicly available policy that clearly articulated its teaching and how the policy would be implemented.

It would have been nice if someone in the government had spoken up in defence of the school for playing by the ‘transparency’ rules it was just about to set, but no one did.

Rather than defend the school against threats to its accreditation and funding by Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he didn’t support the school’s actions and vowed to amend the Religious Discrimination Bill he personally tabled just last year to ensure religious schools could not implement such policies.

I want to be clear about what that means: despite all the rhetoric about this bill being about the protection of people of faith, it is the position of the government that religious believers should not be allowed to send their children to faith-based schools that uphold a traditional view of sexual morality.

“The activists have not only gotten the scalp of a principal, they also sent a warning to every other principal of a religious school.”

The bill is just one act in a pantomime. Subsequent scenes will result in the right of parents to send their children to religious schools that are more than religious in name only be stripped away.

Don’t believe me?

Within a week, the school bowed to the pressure and withdrew the policy. The principal has taken extended leave to help ‘heal’ the community. I doubt he will be back. The activists have not only gotten the scalp of a principal, they also sent a warning to every other principal of a religious school.

Thinking that Citipointe is an isolated case and that other religious schooling will be unaffected when teaching sexual morality as long as the language isn’t so ‘extreme’ is naïve. It’s not the language that activists are concerned about; they want the teaching that underpins it gone. They begin by targeting small, independent religious schools and start picking them off.