A “heartbroken” teacher has quit Citipointe Christian College over the school’s shock enrolment contract on gender identity and homosexuality, and delivered an emotional message to queer students.
The school has forced parents to sign an enrolment contract denouncing “sinful” homosexuality and requiring students identify as their sex assigned at birth or face “exclusion”.
Until Monday, Helen Clapham Burns was an English teacher at the school, located in Carindale in Brisbane’s east.
But Burns, who also had a student at Citipointe, has now resigned, saying she could not sign the contract or continue teaching there.
She told The Project she’s been forced to withdraw her teenage son from Citipointe Christian College.
“We have been in trauma and stress this weekend as I’m having to blow my son’s world apart,” she said.
“Because he’s not going to get to do year 11 and 12 with his mates, I have to find him a new school.
“Not only could I not sign [the contract] as a parent, I couldn’t agree to be a teacher in a school with that vocabulary and language around some of the most vulnerable kids that we interact with.”
Burns explained “the vocabulary around the children presenting with gender issues” was the most upsetting for her.
“As an educator, my priority is to make sure that each child that I interact with feels safe,” she said.
“But when a child tells us, with tears in their eyes, that they don’t feel safe, what are we doing?
“In that documentation it says that both at the beginning of enrolment and during enrolment, if they don’t adhere to this we terminate the enrolment.
“I can’t work for an organisation that does that to kids.”
Citipointe Christian College defends enrolment contract
At the weekend, Citipointe Christian College principal Brian Mulheran responded to the backlash over the enrolment contract.
He argued the school has always held “these Christian beliefs” and wanted to be “fair and transparent” in making them clear to parents.
Mulheran also claimed the school “does not judge students on their sexuality or gender identity and we would not make a decision about their enrolment in the college simply on that basis.”
However that claim appears at odds with the school document. In just days, close to 100,000 people have signed a Change.org petition against it.
Queensland politicians and the Queensland Human Rights Commission have also weighed in on the controversy.
Teacher’s emotional message to LGBTIQ students
Helen Clapham Burns told The Project its “tough enough being a teenager as it is, without thinking you are going to hell.”
“The extra element of being a queer kid in a Christian environment is you think you’re going to hell for eternity,” she said.
“I don’t even know how you walk through the day with that.”
The teacher said it was “heartbreaking” to say goodbye to her senior students on Monday, her final day at Citipointe Christian College.
“I taught senior English online [on Monday]. As I was saying goodbye to [the students], I didn’t know if this is the last time I’m going to see them,” she said.
“I’m heartbroken. I feel like I’ve let them down, that I’m having to leave.
“But I have to let those queer kids know that there are Christians out there that love them and aren’t hiding behind Bible verses.
“I’m letting them know that they are safe with me.”
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