Former students of Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College have spoken out after the school caused outrage with an enrolment contract covering gender identity and homosexuality.
Citipointe Christian College in Carindale, east of Brisbane, sent out the revised enrolment contract on Friday.
In part, the contract declares students should identify “with the gender that God bestowed” and the school has the “right to exclude a student from the College who no longer adheres to the College’s doctrinal precepts including those as to biological sex”.
Parents must also sign a declaration that homosexuality is “sinful, offensive and destructive” to society and as “sexually immoral” as bestiality, incest and paedophilia.
The school declared the contract’s new clauses were to “retain our Christian ethos”. Parents of students were required to sign it before the new school year began.
But the document has sparked massive backlash, with over 50,000 people signing a Change.org petition in opposition in just a few days.
A parent, who also teaches at Citipointe, told ABC News the school told parents they must “either sign [the contract] or you have two weeks leeway to go.”
She said she’s unable to sign it and was “extremely angry” about the timing, just days before the school year started.
“We weren’t given any warning that this was happening,” she told ABC News.
The parent says she feels “backed into a corner” and wants to withdraw her child from the school.
“Students who are struggling or going through their journey of finding out who they are [will] be encased in more vocabulary of them being ‘other’ and not accepted,” she said.
“It is going to be so divisive in the school. It’s going to separate people.
“That’s not my understanding of what the Christian faith is all about.”
Former student ‘shocked but not surprised’ by contract
Felicity (pictured above), a former Citipointe College student, told The Project she was “shocked” but “not fully surprised” to see the document.
“I was shocked at first, but then when you think about [it], not fully surprised,” she said.
“Because they were already upholding these beliefs. I just never believed that they would actually have it in writing and make the parents of these children sign it.
“To me that is the shocking part. The actual beliefs do not come across as a surprise to me at all.”
Felicity identifies as queer. The former student recalled how she would have to put on a “facade” while at the school.
“As soon as you walked into a classroom, you walked into an assembly, you immediately put back on your facade,” she said.
“You pretended to not be who you were, you kept quiet.”
Speaking to Channel 10, she became emotional discussing the impact this would have many current students’ mental health.
“I think some of them would be feeling absolutely horrible,” she said.
“It breaks my heart, honestly. It is something that just means so much to me. I know how much it can mean to a young person hearing those words.
“To be told you are not loved, not worthy, not accepted and not safe in a school environment is so appalling.
“That is why I am doing what I can to stand up for them and be their voice.”
Felicity said it would be “horrible” and “ridiculous” if the contract changes were an attempt to encourage LGBTIQ-identifying students to leave.
“No matter how many contracts they put out, there will always be queer students in their school,” she said.
“You can’t just try to cull a portion of students because of who they are. That’s just ridiculous.”
Principal defends changes to enrolment contract
Emmy Leo, a transgender former student at Citipointe Christian College, also told The Project about one incident while she was at the school.
“I had planned to wear a dress to the formal,” Emmy recalled.
“They told me that I would be ruining everyone else’s night by showing up in a dress.
“I do believe that I may have been a catalyst in pushing that forward, just because I spoke out against the school.
“They wanted to prevent anyone like me from doing anything like that ever again.”
Emmy said the contract was “discrimination against queer people and just blatant disrespect for anyone who is different”.
At the weekend, Citipointe Christian College’s principal, Pastor Brian Mulheran, defended the enrolment contract amid the backlash.
He argued the school has always held “these Christian beliefs” and wanted to be “fair and transparent” in making them clear to parents.
“Citipointe 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,” he said.
However, that statement contradicts the contract, which clearly states the school reserves the right to “exclude” students.
The principal also claimed that the school “unequivocally” loves and respects all people “regardless of their lifestyle and choices, even if those choices are different to our beliefs and practice”.
Citipointe Christian College ‘a taste’ of Religious Discrimination Bill
Principal Mulheran said the school had sought legal advice on the amendments to the contract.
In an email to parents, he argued the school had “certain freedoms under international law and under Commonwealth and state legislation” which permitted the new clauses.
However LGBTIQ group Just.Equal has rejected the claims the enrolment contract is legal.
Spokesperson Rodney Croome said it runs contrary to Queensland anti-discrimination law, as well as state and federal youth suicide prevention programs.
Croome warned more faith-based schools will follow the school’s lead and “overtly discriminate” against LGBTIQ+ students if the proposed federal Religious Discrimination Bill passes.
He said the legislation’s provisions “allowing discrimination in the name of religion are so wide they will effectively nullify existing state protections.”
As a result, the law will give faith-based schools a green light to discriminate, he said.
“The religious exemptions in the federal bill are so wide they will effectively nullify existing state protections in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT and give a green light to discrimination across the nation,” he said.
“Citipointe College is a taste of what Australia will become under the Religious Discrimination Bill.
“And that taste is very bitter for vulnerable LGBTIQ+ students.”
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