South Coast Baptist College has defended its decision to dismiss a relief teacher because he revealed he was in a same-sex relationship.
OutinPerth revealed that Craig Campbell had lost his position at the school in Rockingham, Western Australia.
Campbell had to deal with suspicion about his sexuality after colleagues and students questioned a photo on his social media profile. But when he told his department head he was in a same-sex relationship he was immediately removed from the relief teacher roster.
“We went to my aunt’s wedding, and there were three kids from my school in the back of the room,” Campbell told OutinPerth.
“It got to this point where I was like, ‘I can’t hide this any more.’”
Campbell said he found it challenging to be a teacher who is supposed to instil values like honesty into students, while also being required to lie and cover up his own identity.
He remembered how difficult it was being gay when he was a student at the school, and didn’t want to continue being part of the culture that allowed discrimination.
“I could see there were a number of kids who were struggling with it as well, and I’m sure their experience is just like it was for me,” he said.
“So I told them (the school) I was in a relationship, and obviously this is something that I believe is fine from both a moral and a theological standpoint.”
South Coast Baptist College principal Des Mitchell (pictured) told The West Australian that Campbell had been loved and respected by both staff and students and, like the rest of the community, the school was on a “respectful journey of understanding” on this issue.
But Mitchell defended the school’s decision to no longer employ the teacher because they believed that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
“Young people are naturally inquisitive,” he said. “The image he posted created interest in his personal life, including his sexuality.
“I shared with him that, at present, there is an inconsistency with his beliefs on sexuality and the college’s beliefs.”
Veteran LGBTI rights campaigner Brian Greig believes it is time for the government to review Western Australia’s exemptions in anti-discrimination laws for religious organisations.
He said the special religious exemptions under the Act were being used to target LGBTI people and must be stopped.
“We are now in the absurd situation where LGBTI staff in private schools will soon be able to legally get married under federal law, and then legally able to be sacked the next day under State law,” Greig said.
“I do not believe the people of Western Australia support this anti-gay loophole or want LGBTI teachers sacked from church schools if they are doing a good job.”
WA Premier Mark McGowan said he didn’t agree with the school’s decision and promised his government would seek legal advice looking at the issue.
“You should be able to work in a school and your sexual orientation is irrelevant. That’s my belief and that’s the way I think schools should operate in this day and age,” McGowan said.