Public unaware of religious schools' discrimination exemptions
A new survey has found that religious private schools hold legal exemptions to discriminate and refuse employment to LGBT teachers and educators.
The Australia Institute has revealed that 89 per cent of the 1400 people surveyed supported laws that would require religious education providers to publish discriminatory policies on their websites.
The law exemptions, which fall into both federal and state legislation, provide premise for religious schools to fire LGBT staff and deny employment to prospective staff, should they not conform to organisation beliefs.
The survey has also found that up to 78 per cent of people are unaware of the exemptions that allow schools to discriminate against LGBT people, and believe such policies should be disclosed to parents and families prior to student enrolment.
Safe Schools Coalition Victoria’s, Roz Ward, disagrees with the exemptions and said such practices can have a major effect on students in religious schools, as well as the safety and wellbeing of staff members.
“We know there a range of experiences from very positive and some less positive and we know that religious schools can be very open to sexual diversity,” she said.
“[However] we know there are a number of teachers who work at religious schools who are unable to be open about their sexuality and therefore not able to [freely] be themselves,” she said.
“Not being able to be themselves can have an impact on their mental health and their ability to educate.”
Ms Ward also said that Safe School Coalition Victoria supported the idea of forcing religious schools to publish their discriminatory policies when necessary.
“I think people should be aware of the school policy in order to make an informed decision of where they want to work or send children,” she said.
The Federal Government has ruled out removing the exemptions in a recent discussion paper.
In 2011, ABC News reported that a young girl was denied enrolment into a catholic primary school due to her parent’s same-sex relationship.
GNN contacted the offices of the Minister for Education and the Independent Education Union of Australia, but was yet to hear back at the time of publishing.