Lesbian teacher speaks out after sacking from Christian school

steph lentz teacher nsw religious freedom christian school
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A teacher at a Christian school who came out as gay and was sacked has spoken out as the government prepares a new draft of the controversial Religious Discrimination Bill.

Steph Lentz said she began teaching at Covenant Christian School in the Sydney suburb of Belrose in 2017. She said it was her first job out of university.

“I was employed there until January this year when I was sacked after I came out to the school,” Lentz told ABC Radio National.

“I was in a heterosexual marriage [when I started there]. Growing up in a very conservative Protestant environment, I believed for a long time heterosexual marriage was the only option for lifelong companionship.

“It was after the breakdown of my marriage and some real reflection and soul searching that I first came out to myself. I also shared this with my family.”

Lentz said she wanted to be honest with the school about her “affirming view of homosexual people and relationships.”

“I felt that in the spirit of integrity and to honour the agreement I was under, I informed the school,” she said.

“[My view] that it’s okay to be gay, God doesn’t have a problem with it [and] Christian schools need queer people of faith to be models for students and families.

“But that didn’t gel with the school I was teaching at.”

Christian school’s stated belief in ‘immorality’ of homosexuality

In a letter, the school told Steph Lentz she’d failed to affirm the school’s Statement of Belief. That statement includes the “immorality” of “homosexual practices”.

However Lentz claimed she saw “some ambiguity” within the school policies.

“I felt there was an opportunity to give the school my firm conviction it’s not incompatible to be gay and a Christian, and affirming of queer people and relationships,” she said.

“I think gone are the day where those things need to considered in contradiction with each other.

“But I was aware there was a possibility they wouldn’t engage with my point of view, and I’d be dismissed.

“That’s unfortunately what happened.

“Part of the reason I did it is because I wanted them to pin their colours to the mast. I wanted this conversation to take place.”

‘Many Christians look at you differently’

As well as the financial impacts, Steph Lentz explained her sacking also had a “huge” impact on her mental health.

“One of the most devastating things is the impact on the change and the loss of relationship since coming out,” she said.

“It’s a sad reality that many Christians do start to look at you differently. They think you’ve somehow become a different person, and perhaps less of a person after you come out.

“That’s something I’ve found very personally troubling. It’s something I really want to see change.”

Lentz explained she’s still an English teacher, working at a different school affiliated with the Christian church.

“The school is affirming of me and other queer staff employed there,” she said.

Christian Schools Australia defends religious exemptions for schools

Christian Schools Australia spokesperson Mark Spencer told the Sydney Morning Herald faith schools must remain “true to their core vision and values”.

He said the school’s current exemptions in anti-discrimination law provide protections for religious freedom.

Parents will not have the same opportunities to send their children to faith-based schools of their choice “if employment or other policy constraints frustrate the establishment and operation of religious schools,” he said.

However teachers, he argues, can work at a “multitude of other schools”.

“If parental choice is to remain a hallmark of Australian education, then the rights of school communities to operate in accordance with religious beliefs must be upheld,” he said.

Lentz told ABC Radio she “understands that way of thinking” and had been sympathetic to it in the past.

However she warns repressing homosexual identity has a devastating impact on mental health.

“Teaching homophobic doctrines and beliefs is incredibly damaging,” she said.

“Students need to know it’s okay to be who they are. God will accept them, and everybody can accept them.

“There is no barrier to being fully who they are, and belonging in a community of faith.

“The alternative is very scary and very damaging. The statistics on suicide among queer teenagers in religious communities are very worrying.”

‘No contradiction between Christian belief and affirming queer people’

Steph Lentz encouraged communities and families with the alternative view “to engage deeply with the scholarship and evidence.”

“It says there’s no contradiction in good faith between a genuine Christian belief and an affirming stance on homosexual people,” she said.

“If we approach that with an open mind, I think there’s a huge potential for positive change.”

Lentz said she hopes politicians “carefully consider the human impact of the decisions they make” around the Religious Discrimination Bill.

Federal government’s Religious Discrimination Bill to return

Attorney General Michaelia Cash said the controversial religious discrimination bill will make a comeback by the end of the year.

“Our government takes the issue of discrimination against Australians on the grounds of their religious beliefs seriously,” she said in July.

Earlier, LGBTIQ advocates and others slammed two previous drafts as flawed and unfair.

Liberal MP Warren Entsch also warned he’ll vote against the bill if it undermines LGBTIQ rights.

Equality Australia says the Attorney-General must “deliver a proposal that protects everyone in our community, regardless of belief, equally.”

They warn the bill mustn’t erode the rights of the LGBTIQ community or create unequal protections privileging people of faith.

“Our laws should protect us all, equally,” spokesperson Anna Brown said.

“However right now, federal laws already allow LGBT teachers, students and staff to be fired, expelled or treated unfairly by faith-based schools and education institutions. All because of their sexual or gender identity.

“Instead of [entrenching] new forms of discrimination, the government must deliver on its 2018 commitment to protect students at school, and wind back exemptions that allow religious institutions to treat people unfairly.

“Every one of us deserves protection from discrimination, no matter who we are, whom we love, or what we believe.

“But the government’s draft Religious Discrimination Bill contains unprecedented provisions that would undermine access to healthcare and inclusive workplaces.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia


  1. Peter Turner
    12 August 2021

    Unfortunately people of faith have long used religion as a weapon to inflict pain and suffering (and in some cases death) on anyone who disagrees with their beliefs. This sacking underlines the fact that religious institutions do NOT need further legislation to “protect” their rights

    They already have all the rights they need.

    We already have a Prime Minister who seems to think he can “lay hands on” anyone he chooses without asking permission ( also known as common assault).

    • Robyn
      4 October 2021

      Many Christians are bullied for their faith in Australia and over seas many Christians are tortured till they die or denounce God. In China church leaders are expected to teach the party beliefs to the congregation or disappear. Now in Australia the church is expected to teach socialist beliefs. Not only churches are under attack but science both social science and medical will not be allowed to examine the question Why do people feel the way they do? Ultimately it is the gay community who will lose out because people will feel frightened to help them or even be friends with them because if I say something wrong I could be taken to court.

  2. John Lambert
    15 August 2021

    Interesting yet sad. The Bible DOES NOT preach against lesbian relationships. Leviticus is a book about public health and it is very specific in its reference in Lev 18:22, and it can only be interpreted as being against male homosexuality.

    • Robyn
      4 October 2021

      Romans 1:26-32

      [26] For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; [27] and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

      [28] And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. [29] They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, [30] slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, [31] foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. [32] Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

  3. Julian
    17 August 2021

    The church and the Teliban use Religious Corporations ideology as a weapon against women and LGBTQ TAXPAYERS in 2021. In Queensland we have high rates of SUICIDES and the Australian Christian Attorney General Ms CASH want’s to implement HATE PREJUDICE AND BIGOTRY AGAINST LGBTQ PEOPLE. Equal Love will win

  4. Robyn
    4 October 2021

    This was a private school taxpayers money doesn’t didn’t fund her wage. If you shut down Christian schools all those kids will hit the public system.

  5. B
    13 June 2024

    This is all symptomatic of conflicting belief systems trying to live together under the same law, and not actually understanding each other’s beliefs. The most fundamental misunderstanding isn’t whether to let people be their ‘true self’, it is actually what is meant by your ‘true self’, and I find it disappointing that the only Christians who give statements are the ones who pick and choose parts of the Bible to fit their own beliefs. Either choose to believe it entirely, or believe none of it. You can’t choose to ignore the parts you find mildly confronting.

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