Christian school says it will dismiss openly gay teachers

A former teacher at Citipointe Christian College was sacked for refusing to sign a contract declaring he would hide his sexuality and not be openly gay.

A teacher facing kids in a classroom, as a Christian school in Australia dismissed openly gay teachers.
Image: Unsplash

The Citipointe Christian College, a religious school in Queensland, Australia, is asking its teachers to sign contracts that would allow the institution to dismiss them for being openly gay. The school was under fire earlier this year for wanting parents to sign enrolment contracts on behalf of their children renouncing homosexuality and declaring they were agreeable to Trans students being recognised only by the sex they were assigned at birth.

Only last month, principal Brian Mulheran stood aside after the school withdrew the discriminatory enrolment contracts because of the backlash they faced. The contracts contained a ‘statement of faith’ which compared “homosexual acts” and “bisexual acts” to bestiality and paedophilia, deeming them immoral, and including a declaration that implied that Trans students would be recognised in the school only by the “gender that God bestowed”.

However, the school’s discriminatory actions have continued. One of the teachers from the Christian school has come forward claiming that he lost his job for refusing to sign a contract that would allow the institution to sack him if he decided to be openly gay and not to keep his sexuality hidden.

The contract in question was signed by the new principal, Ruth Gravestein, and is dated from February – after the school withdrew the enrolment contracts and issued an apology. The Guardian obtained a copy of the document, which reads: “It is a genuine occupational requirement of the college that the employee not act in a way he knows, or ought reasonably to know, is contrary to the religious beliefs of the college,”

“Nothing in his/her deliberate conduct should be incompatible with the intrinsic character of their position, especially, but not only, in relation to the expression of human sexuality through heterosexual, monogamous relationships, expressed intimately through marriage.”

The contract also contains the following words: “Your failure to abide by such requirements expressed in the above clauses could constitute a breach of your employment contract and subsequent dismissal.”

Parts of what is written in the document seem to mimic the wording of Queensland anti-discrimination law, which allows religious bodies to discriminate under certain circumstances. However, it is up for debate whether the contracts break the law of the country.

Matilda Alexander from the LGBTI legal service gave her legal opinion on the contracts that the Christian school wants teachers to sign, saying that they were trying to prohibit conduct that has no connection to the workplace. “This is far beyond the power of any employer in Queensland. We all have the right to attend work and pursue our own personal lives outside of work, even if working for a religious school.”

The teacher who recently lost his job expressed disappointment for how things turned out, especially because he felt the school was previously an “encouraging and supportive learning environment”. Talking about what happened to him, he said: “Not signing this contract was my choice, but I have effectively lost my job to discrimination”.

He then added that “Excluding LGBTQIA+ people from the school community perpetuates these archaic values, and doesn’t prepare students for the real world. In the real world if you don’t share values with a colleague or friend you can’t contract them out of your life.

“I’m disgusted by this kind of intolerance and discrimination hiding behind the name of God, especially when formalised in a contract. This is not Christianity.”

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