Citipointe ‘Expression of Regret’ Points Way for Commonwealth and NSW on Protecting LGBTQ Students

Citipointe Christian College has published an Expression of Regret in relation to the amended enrolment contract it issued to parents and guardians in January 2022, noting that the contract included statements that ‘were distressing to members and allies of the LGBTIQA+ community’.

This follows a complaint by parents under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld), which was resolved by agreement after settlement discussions.

Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 protects LGBTQ students against discrimination in religious schools. It has done so, successfully, for two decades since exceptions that allowed religious schools to lawfully discriminate against students were removed.

In contrast, discrimination against LGBTQ students remains lawful in New South Wales, as both the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 provide broad exceptions allowing religious educational institutions to discriminate against students & staff.

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s recent report recommended religious schools no longer be given special rules allowing discrimination against LGBTQ students or teachers. The Commonwealth has yet to commit to implementing these straight-forward recommendations despite their clear 2022 election promises to end discrimination against both groups.

In NSW, the Government has referred the Anti-Discrimination Act to the NSW Law Reform Commission for comprehensive review. However, the NSW Government has not yet committed to updating the law to protect LGBTQ students or teachers.

Comments by Alastair Lawrie, Director of Policy & Advocacy – Public Interest Advocacy Centre:

‘All students should have the right to learn and grow, free from the fear of discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.’

‘The Citipointe expression of regret published today reinforces how these rights can be properly recognised through anti-discrimination laws, not just in Queensland but in the other jurisdictions which already protect LGBTQ students, including Tasmania, the NT, ACT and Victoria.’

‘The Commonwealth Government must urgently implement the Australian Law Reform Commission’s straight-forward recommendations to ensure every student, in every classroom around the country, is finally protected.’

‘Legislating the ALRC’s recommendations would also ensure LGBTQ teachers are judged on their skills and experience, rather than their sexual orientation or gender identity, nation-wide.’

‘The successful outcome of complaints in relation to Citipointe’s January 2022 enrolment contract also sends a strong message to the NSW Government that it is time to remove out-dated privileges that allow religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ people.’

‘The NSW Government must commit to take action on this issue as a matter of priority, particularly when the Commonwealth Government appears to be backtracking on its election promises to provide federal discrimination protection for LGBTQ students and teachers.’

‘The NSW Government has the opportunity to achieve this right now, by supporting the Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill, which removes the Anti-Discrimination Act’s broad exceptions allowing ‘private educational authorities’ to discriminate.’

‘LGBTQ students shouldn’t be subjected to discrimination in 2024 just because they are enrolled south of the Tweed and north of the Murray.’

Media contact:
PIAC Director of Policy and Advocacy, Alastair Lawrie: 0411 203 440

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