Rainbow Families recently made a submission on behalf of our community to the Senate Inquiry into Legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff.
This Inquiry followed promises that ScoMo made that he would legislate so that schools wouldn’t be able to expel LGBTIQ+ kids, or fire school staff who are LGBTIQ+. The Government hadn’t done anything about this promise, and with Parliament ending for the year, there was an Inquiry moved to ensure this issue was addressed.
Existing exemptions allow religious organisations to discriminate against our families by refusing to hire or to dismiss employees because they’re LGBTIQ+, or refusing enrolment to children with LGBTIQ+ parents, and expelling LGBTIQ+ kids. These rules unfairly target our families, and when we consulted earlier this year about this issue, overwhelmingly our community told us that they believe existing exemptions are unjust and discriminatory.
Religious and faith-based schools are granted large amounts of taxpayer funds to deliver services to the general public and are major employers. They should be required to deliver these services in a way that is equitable and accountable to the public. Such discrimination should not be supported by public funding.
We argued that existing exemptions to anti-discrimination law unfairly target our community. And reiterated the views shared by out Victorian counterparts to the Inquiry hearing on 19 November 2018:
We support the removal of the existing exemptions in the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act that allow students and staff to be discriminated against in faith-based schools because of their sexual orientation, gender identify or relationship status. No exceptions and no additions. The removal of these exemptions should occur with no additions or grey areas. Just remove the exemptions.
We strongly you urge you to consider that:
· Our children should not and should never be discriminated against because of who they are or what kind of family they come from.
· Any educational institution receiving government funding should not be allowed to discriminate due to a person’s sexuality, gender diversity, family structure or relationship status – be they a child, young person, family member, parent, carer or school staff member.
Thanks to everyone who shared their stories with us. It’s through telling our personal stories that we are able to make change!