Embattled Brisbane school Citipointe Christian College has responded after it emerged the school asked teachers to sign employment contracts warning they’ll face the sack for expressing homosexuality.
The religious primary and secondary school is at Carindale, east of Brisbane. The school faced intense backlash last month for its “discriminatory” anti-gay and anti-trans student enrolment contracts.
But now a teacher has spoken out about a discriminatory employment contract for teachers he refused to sign last month.
The contract, dated February just weeks after the student enrolment scandal, prohibits staff from expressing human sexuality contrary with the college’s faith.
“It is a genuine occupational requirement of the college that the employee not act in a way he knows, or ought reasonably to know, is contrary to the religious beliefs of the college,” the document reads.
“Nothing in his/her deliberate conduct should be incompatible with the intrinsic character of their position, especially, but not only, in relation to the expression of human sexuality through heterosexual, monogamous relationships, expressed intimately through marriage.
“Your failure to abide by such requirements expressed in the above clauses could constitute a breach of your employment contract and subsequent dismissal.”
Staff member slams Citipointe Christian College’s ‘archaic values’
One teacher, who refused to sign the contract, told The Guardian he was disgusted by the clause in the document.
“Not signing this contract was my choice, but I have effectively lost my job to discrimination,” he said.
He said Citipointe was an “encouraging and supportive learning environment, with good facilities and hard-working staff,” but blasted the school’s “archaic values”.
“Excluding LGBTQIA+ people from the school community perpetuates these archaic values.
“[It] doesn’t prepare students for the real world.
“In the real world if you don’t share values with a colleague or friend you can’t contract them out of your life.
“I’m disgusted by this kind of intolerance and discrimination hiding behind the name of God, especially when formalised in a contract.
“This is not Christianity.”
Citipointe Christian College says contract ‘under review’
However Citipointe Christian College said the school is currently reviewing the employment contract “after the decision to amend the Statement of Faith.”
“After the review is completed, new employment contracts will be offered to relevant staff,” a spokesperson said.
The school said “no member of staff has had their employment terminated” for failing to sign.
The spokesperson said one staff member received the previous contract, understood to contain the homosexuality clauses.
“[This was] before the decision was made on 24 February to amend the Statement of Faith, which is part of the contract,” the spokesperson said.
That staff member “informed the College that they are unable to sign the contract,” the spokesperson said.
“The staff member remains employed at the College at this time,” they said.
“However, the contract in question refers to the Statement of Faith which was retracted in February.
“[It] will be replaced by a revised version with no references to sexuality and gender identity.”
The spokesperson added, “Like many faith-based schools in Queensland, Citipointe has always employed staff on the basis that they see their work as a part of the Christian ministry of the College.
“Both the Queensland and Commonwealth legislation respect and protect the right of faith-based organisations like Citipointe to employ staff who will act consistently with the religious beliefs of the College.”
Wording of contract is likely unlawful in Queensland, lawyers say
Queensland law prohibits discrimination against LGBTIQ+ staff and students in faith-based schools.
Reacting to the document, Queensland Attorney General Shannon Fentiman said it was “appalling”.
Fentiman also urged anyone who believes they’ve suffered discrimination at work can make a complaint to the state Human Rights Commission.
LGBTI Legal Service President Matilda Alexander said in her legal opinion, the contract is likely unlawful.
“It seeks to prohibit conduct that is not in connection with the workplace by stopping an employee acting in a way that is contrary to the religious beliefs of the college, whether or not this is done openly,” she said.
“It changes the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ mantra to ‘don’t do it’. This is far beyond the power of any employer in Queensland.
“We all have the right to attend work and pursue our own personal lives outside of work, even if working for a religious school.”
Call to strip Citipointe Christian College of public funding
Just.Equal Australia has called on the federal and Queensland governments to strip Citipointe Christian College of its public funding.
“Religious schools cannot continue to defy discrimination laws and public opinion, and expect to receive public funding,” spokesperson Brian Greig said.
“There comes a limit where taxpayers should no longer be expected to fund bigotry, and Citipointe has reached that limit.”
Greig also urged both major parties to protect LGBTIQ+ staff in faith-based schools.
“Existing LGBTIQ+ discrimination protections in places like Tasmania and the ACT have not prevented faith-based schools from operating according to their religious ethos,” he said.
“It’s time such protections were adopted nationally.”
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