55,000 signatures demand end to school discrimination

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown
Photo: Equality Australia/Instagram

LGBTIQ organisations Minus 18 and Equality Australia recently delivered a petition to federal senators calling for the protection of students and teachers from religious school discrimination.

The petition comes ahead of a Senate vote this week. The Senate will vote on a Labor bill to scrap exemptions allowing religious schools to discriminate against students. Currently, the bill allows discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Today will see an inquiry into the bill tabled in the Senate.

Micah Scott

Minus 18’s Micah Scott said the petition wanted an end to religious school discrimination.

“Today we share the voices of over 55,000 students, parents and community members from every state and territory in Australia…

“The message is clear: overwhelmingly Australians believe that all students and teachers deserve to protection from discrimination.”

A group of LGBTIQ young people also joined the advocates. They handed the petition to Senators Penny Wong, Louise Pratt, Janet Rice and Tim Storer in Canberra earlier this week.

“The legislation that emerges from the building around me has the power to shape the tone of society and, when you’re young and LGBT+, that tone isn’t always friendly,” 18-year-old Oscar Kaspi-Crutchett said.

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown also called for the repealing the exemptions.

That would “allow students and workers to feel safe and welcome at schools across Australia.

“It’s vital that the parliament acts now and doesn’t delay to deliver on the commitments made last year.

“We know we have support in the parliament [and] we’re here today to call on our supporters to do the right thing to keep students and teachers safe at school.”

Senator Penny Wong

Penny Wong introduced the Labor bill after it emerged from the Ruddock religious freedom review that current laws allow religious schools to expel students on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.

Following nationwide backlash, both political parties pledged to amend the laws, but reached a deadlock late last year over the details of the legislation.

The government’s own bill was criticised by LGBTIQ advocates as ‘deeply flawed’. Although referred to the Australian Law Reform Commission, that agency won’t report until after the upcoming federal election.

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