Federal laws should be amended to protect students and staff from discrimination, the Human Rights Law Centre said today in its submission to the Senate committee reviewing laws that allow faith-based schools to discriminate against LGBTIQ people.
Anna Brown, Co-Chair of the Equality Campaign and Director of Legal Advocacy with the Human Rights Law Centre, said it’s time for parliament to remove these outdated laws.
“Broad exemptions in our discrimination laws allow religious schools to kick out children and fire teachers simply because of who they are. Kids should be focused on classes and their homework, not living in fear of mistreatment. Teachers should be able to do their job without having to hide who they are,” said Ms Brown.
“There is a clear way forward. Simple changes to remove these exemptions will allow students and workers to feel safe and welcome at schools across Australia. With more than 1 in 3 students attending these schools and thousands of jobs at stake, this reform will have an incredibly positive impact on our community,” said Ms Brown.
Many religious schools already provide inclusive and supportive environments for staff and students. The committee however heard evidence from multiple people about the harm these laws caused to the health and well-being of students and teachers.
“Religious schools have nothing to fear and everything to gain from sending a clear message to prospective students and families that they are inclusive and welcoming places of learning. Schools will be able to maintain their religious ethos but will no longer be legally permitted to discriminate against their staff and students.”
“Australians understand this is simple. Kids shouldn’t be turned away for who they are. Teachers should be confident when they walk through the school gates that that they are accepted.”
“The clock is ticking. The Prime Minister has already committed to removing discrimination against kids in school, and families and schools deserve certainty. The time to do it is now,” said Ms Brown.
Read: The Human Rights Law Centre’s submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee can be read here.
Read: The Equality Campaign’s submission here.
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communication: 0419 100 519