Aug16

We need to work with school chaplain not against them

CREATED ON // Saturday, 16 August 2014 Written by // Rodney Croome

For the sake of LGBTI young people, school chaplains need professional development and clear guidelines about LGBTI issues.

To achieve this we need to work with chaplains, not against them.

That's been my firm position for a while now and It's bearing fruit.

The Scripture Union of Tasmania is encouraging chaplains to attend LGBTI workshops.

SU recently stood down a Hobart chaplain for breaching guidelines after he declared online that same-sex attraction can be changed.

As far as I know this is the first time this has happened in Australia. Hopefully, the message is strong enough to ensure it will be the last.

But I have paid a price for my stance.

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People I admire have attacked me for "letting down the side", "going soft" and being an "appeaser" in an us-or-them war against all the "liars" and "haters" who "masquerade" as "do-good chaplains".

The low point came last week when a young gay man physically threatened me for "selling out".

When did it become acceptable for LGBTI people to stereotype, hate and bully in exactly the way we have been stereotyped, hated and bullied for so long?

When did we lose our faith in all those forces for good - pluralism, education, respect for those who disagree, the bonds of our shared humanity - that move society forward?

Is the cost of our growing social acceptance that we abandon the values that got us here, and become what we once despised?

Will we behave like too many minorities before us, kicking others off the social ladder as we ascend it?

I say an emphatic "no".

With our hard won rights and freedoms comes a responsibility to engage constructively with the society of which we are increasingly a part.

As with an individual's coming out, the emancipation of an entire social group demands patience and tolerance from the emancipated as much as from others.

This is why I will continue to walk with those who are conflicted, not jeer them.

And it is why I will continue to do what I am doing even if I am jeered too.

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Rodney Croome

Rodney Croome

Rodney Croome is the Campaign Co-ordinator of the Tasmanian gay and Lesbian Rights Group and the National Convener of Australian Marriage Equality. Visit his blog at rodneycroome.id.au.

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