Christian school asks parents to sign contract that could exclude gay and transgender students
By Helen Regan, CNN
A Christian school in the Australian city of Brisbane has sparked outrage for requiring parents to sign an enrollment contract that refers to homosexuality as a sin and includes it in a list of “immoral” behavior alongside bestiality, incest, and pedophilia.
The document could see students expelled based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual activity, according to a Change.org petition against the new contract, which has garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
Citipointe Christian College sent the contract to parents last Friday ahead of the new school year, according to CNN affiliate 7 News.
“We believe that any form of sexual immorality, (including but not limited to adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, bisexual acts, bestiality, incest, pedophilia and pornography), is sinful and offensive to God and is destructive to human relationships and society,” the school document reportedly states.
The contract also said the college will only enroll a student “on the basis of the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.”
The college is one of Queensland’s largest independent schools, teaching around 1,700 children from primary through to secondary education, according to its website.
The petition accuses the school of openly discriminating against queer and trans students and demands the school retract the contract.
“Sign the petition to show Citipointe that we will not stand for such blatant transphobia and homophobia,” wrote Bethany Lau, the petition’s creator.
The school is standing by the contract and in a statement said its teachings and operations are based on the religious beliefs of the International Network of Churches “that hold that marriage was instituted by God as between a man and a woman, and which do not distinguish between gender and biological sex.”
Pastor Brian Mulheran, the school’s principal, said in the statement: “We have always held these Christian beliefs and we have tried to be fair and transparent in our community by making them clear in the enrollment contract.
“We are seeking to maintain our Christian ethos and to give parents and students the right to make an informed choice about whether they can support and embrace our approach to Christian education.
“Citipointe does not judge students on their sexuality or gender identity and we would not make a decision about their enrollment in the College simply on that basis.”
However, the new contract states the school would have “the right to exclude a student” who “no longer adheres to the College’s doctrinal precepts including those as to biological sex,” according to 7 News.
CNN has reached out to Citipointe for further comment.
Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace, who has a non-binary child, said she found the contents of the contract “very distressing.”
“In this day and age to see this happening is actually quite unbelievable,” said Grace. The minister said the matter had been referred to the Non-State School Accreditation Board, who would be reviewing complaints about the school on Thursday.
The Queensland Human Rights Commission said the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act prevents schools from discriminating against students based on their sexuality or gender identity.
Schools in the state can operate as single sex or a religious school, but the law “does not allow a school to refuse enrollment based on gender identity or sexuality,” the commission said in a statement.
“A school policy that requires a trans or gender diverse young person to be treated as their sex assigned at birth, or that requires a young person to hide or deny their sexuality, is likely to amount to unlawful discrimination,” it said.
“Schools cannot contract out of their duties under discrimination laws by asking parents or students to agree to discriminatory terms.”
Australia’s federal government has proposed new legislation that it says will protect citizens from discrimination on the basis of religious belief or activity, just as current laws prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, disability and age.
The Religious Discrimination Bill is still working its way through Parliament, and thousands of interested parties have submitted their views.
Critics are concerned the bill would allow religious bodies, including schools and charities, to discriminate if it’s consistent with their core beliefs.
In its submission, the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties said the proposed bill “dangerously expands the over-privileging of religious rights in relation to other rights and weakens existing protections available under current state and federal anti-discrimination laws.”
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CNN’s Hilary Whiteman contributed to this report.