PIAC has urged support for a Bill to end discrimination against LGBT students at all schools in a submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Removing Discrimination Against Students) Bill 2018.
PIAC has also called for these protections to be extended to teachers and other staff.
‘Discrimination has no place in our schools. We urge the Government to make inclusive classrooms a reality in 2019 by adopting this Bill,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.
‘There is now broad cross-party agreement that LGBT students in religious schools should be protected against discrimination.
‘The Sex Discrimination Amendment Bill does what needs to be done with simplicity and clarity.
‘There has been a lot of debate about the need for religious schools to be able to uphold their ‘values’ and ‘ethos’. This is fair enough, but it doesn’t require special rules for religious schools.
‘Reasonable conditions imposed on students, such as conditions to uphold the ethos and values of a school, are perfectly lawful under the law as it stands and will remain lawful if this Bill is passed.
‘Unfortunately, the Government’s proposed amendments to this Bill add complexity and confusion. Adopting these amendments would undermine the existing test for indirect discrimination, create uncertainty and allow religious schools to treat LGBT students unfairly. Most troublingly, they seek to carve out an exemption for ‘teaching activity’. This would allow discrimination – both direct and indirect – by teachers in classrooms, which is precisely what we should be seeking to avoid.’
‘All students have the right to grow, and to learn, in a supportive environment,’ said Jonathon Hunyor. ‘Our submission urges the Committee to recommend Parliament gets on with legislating to protect LGBT students without any further delay.’
PIAC’s submission is available here.
Media contact: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce – 0478 739 280