A week before the scheduled start of the school year, a private Brisbane Christian school has required parents to sign an updated enrolment contract that gives it the right to expel any student that comes out as LGBTQI+.
Citipointe Christian College in Carindale sent an updated enrolment contract to parents that describes homosexuality as ‘immoral’, and refuses to recognise any claim to a gender identity.
The contract also equates homosexuality and bisexuality with non-consensual sexual activity, including bestiality and pedophilia, and must be signed by parents to avoid their children being unenrolled.
“We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including but not limited to, adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, bisexual acts, bestiality, incest, paedophilia (sic) and pornography) is sinful and offensive to God and is destructive to human relationships and society,” the contract reads.
“Whilst each student is individually valued and equally encouraged to pursue opportunities in both academic and co-curricular activities, I/we agree that, where distinctions are made between male and female (inclusive of, but not limited to, for example, uniforms, presentation, terminology, use of facilities and amenities, participation in sporting events and accommodation) such distinctions will be applied on the basis of the individual’s biological sex.
“Failure to agree to the terms will afford Citipointe Christian College the right to exclude a student from the College who no longer adheres to the College’s doctrinal precepts including those as to biological sex.”
The introduction of the enrolment contract has been met with outrage from the local community and has inspired a change.org petition to have the contract recalled, which currently has over 130,000 signatures.
Labor State MP for the area Corrine McMillan took to social media to share that she was unhappy with the contract.
“I am completely opposed to the homophobic and transphobic positions put forward in Citipointe Christian College’s new Enrolment Contract and I will not let this issue go,” McMillan posted to her Facebook page.
“I [have] raised my concerns directly with Education Minister Grace Grace MP.”
Citipointe Christian College, previously known as Christian Outreach College Brisbane, released a statement on their website, in which their principle, Pastor Brian Mulheran, reinforced the school’s Christian beliefs.
“We have tried to be fair and transparent to everyone in our community by making them clear in the enrolment contract,” Mulheran said, suggesting that the contract is only to assist parents in making an informed choice.
“Citipointe does not judge students based on their sexuality or gender identity and we would not make a decision about their enrolment in the College solely on that basis,” he added, in a direct contradiction to the wording of the contract.
He also stated that the new clauses in the enrolment contract are solely to, “ensure that [they] retain [their] Christian ethos, which is the foundation of what has made the College what it is today.”
The school was allegedly able to create the contract based on laws relating to its establishment being based on ‘religious purposes’.
The Queensland Human Rights Commission
However, the Queensland Human Rights Commission, responding to concerns raised by Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace, said the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act doesn’t permit religious schools to discriminate against enrolled students because of their sexuality or gender identity.
The Queensland Human Rights Commission maintain Queensland schools are able to operate as religious and single sex, but this only allows for vetting of prospective students and doesn’t allow refusal of enrolment on the basis of gender identity or sexuality.
“Expelling, disciplining or otherwise treating a student unfavourably because of these characteristics is unlawful discrimination in Queensland,” the Commission said.
“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.
“Schools cannot contract out of their duties under discrimination laws by asking parents or students to agree to discriminatory terms.”
A teacher at Citipointe, who’s child is also a student, told the ABC yesterday that they were saddened that students will be ‘othered’ by the school administration.
“As an educator whose priority it is to look after a child, and as a parent wanting to bring up a young [child] to be a functioning member of this society, I knew I was in trouble as to whether I could sign this document,” they said to the ABC.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner graduated from Citipointe in 1994 and currently has children enrolled in the school.
“Like other parents, this has caught us by surprise,” Schrinner said on January 30th.
“I will be raising my concerns with the principal.
“I am reassured by his public statements … that Citipointe does not discriminate against students because of their sexuality or gender identity.”
Schrinner has previously donated at least $500 to the college’s foundation trust, and it remains unclear whether or not he has signed the updated enrolment contract.
Schools can “Deliver their own enrolment contract”
Independent Schools Queensland chief executive Christopher Mountford, speaking to ABC radio, said independent schools are their own entities entitled to ‘deliver their own enrolment contract’ and that a diversity of schools will allow parents to send their child to a school that aligns with their beliefs and values.
“The schools are being transparent and up-front in their enrolment contracts around the issues and beliefs that they have as a school, and that’s consistent with other independent schools as well, and those contracts are legal under the current legislation,” Mountford said.
“The question of whether or not the school should or could do these things, is best answered by thinking through ‘what are the school’s ethos and processes they’re putting forward to the community?
“Is it reasonable and legal, what they’re putting forward, and then can parents choose to engage in that school or not?”
Pastor Ross Abraham, Australian National Chairman of the International Network of Churches agrees with this sentiment, stating that the “INC fully supports the enrolment conditions of the College”.
However, the Independent Education Union (IEU) representing over 17,000 teachers and staff in Queensland non-government schools has called on Citipointe Christian College to meet its responsibilities under the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act and ensure no student at the College is discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or sexuality.
IEU – Queensland and Northern Territory Branch Secretary Terry Burke echoed comments by the Queensland Human Rights Commission and called on the school not to use contracts to avoid their responsibilities under anti-discrimination law.
“Trying to avoid anti-discrimination laws by asking parents and/or students to agree to discriminatory terms in a ‘contract’ is beyond shameful and rejected by our union,” Mr Burke said.
A change.org petition started by a former Citipointe student, is calling for the contract to be recalled and has reached over 130,000 signatures.
Organisers argue that Citipointe are, “using their religious beliefs to openly discriminate against queer and trans students, as well as threatening to take away their education.”
The QUT Queer Collective have also publicly decried the contract, stating they stand in solidarity with the LGBT+ students and their families at Citipointe.
“This is obviously inhumane and disgustingly discriminatory,” the Collective’s statement read.
“LGBT+ youth exposed to religious and discriminatory environments experience significantly higher rates of mental health struggles.
“Being an LGBT+ person is not a matter of choice.
“Our youth deserve to be raised in an environment that at the absolute least does not label them an affront to a God who is held as the absolute moral judgement.”
This stance has since been echoed by the QUT Student Guild, who condemned the enrolment contract for requiring parents to agree to discriminatory statements.
“Unfortunately, discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity is legal for religious schools such as Citipointe,” the Guild stated.
“The Religious Discrimination Bill aims to extend the right to discriminate against LGBT+ individuals to any organisation.
“All students should be able to go to school feeling safe and have equal opportunities to learn and develop.
“No school should be able to discriminate against students or teachers on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender.
“The QUT Student Guild stand with any protests or action against this enrolment contract, the Religious Discrimination Bill and any other efforts to divide Australians and humiliate or denigrate those most disadvantaged in our society.”
A public protest has been organised for the 4th of February at King George Square.
More to come.
The offices of Trevor Evans MP and Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner were contacted for comment.