They lived a life in secret, full of shame. They were 12, 14, and 15 year-old queer students at the evangelical Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane, who had been repeatedly told that homosexuality was sinful and socially destructive.
Felicity Myers (pictured above) graduated from the school two years ago. But on her first day as a new student in 2018, at the start of grade 10, a lengthy address from incoming principal Pastor Brian Mulheran “imprinted” on her mind.
“He had a list of sins, with homosexuality being one of them,” she recalled.
She said Citipointe taught that being gay was “a sinful, wrong thing to be doing” and “often portrayed it as an evil choice.”
Felicity said for a young person, realising that “the school you’re in thinks you are not a worthy person, and should not be existing as you are, it stirs up feelings of fear and shame.”
Over time, she said hearing those messages repeatedly during her time at school started to affect her sense of self-worth.
She never imagined she would stand up and challenge them publicly.
But earlier this year, Citipointe Christian College released an updated enrolment contract earlier this year.
The school required parents to sign and agree homosexuality was a sin and “immoral”, alongside bestiality and incest. The contract also stipulated students enrol under their sex assigned at birth.
“I felt physically sick. My stomach churned. My hands were shaking,” Felicity recalled.
“I just remember sitting there probably in shock for a minute. Seeing it in writing like that brought me back to being in that school environment.
“And something sort of sparked inside me and I was like, I can’t not say anything about it.”
She and a group of other Citipointe students went public at the time.
Citipointe Christian College sparks outcry over religious discrimination
A group of the Citipointe students appear on tonight’s episode of ABC’s Australian Story, recalling their stories becoming national news earlier this year.
The Citipointe controversy would even reach Canberra, influencing politicians as they debated the Morrison government’s contentious Religious Discrimination Bill.
Former Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman tells Australian Story, “The Citipointe story had a profound impact on the conscience of many of my colleagues in the Coalition party room.”
The Religious Discrimination Bill was ultimately shelved. But the Albanese Labor government has vowed to revive the issue this term.
Felicity Myers told Australian Story because of her experiences at school, she’s no longer religious. But now at university, she says her “confidence definitely came back”.
“I definitely was able to thrive as myself, which is not something I had previously experienced from being at school,” she said.
Watch Australian Story: Losing Faith at 8pm on ABC TV tonight, and stream it on iview and YouTube.
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