Reflections on life, meaning and purpose

Australia: A New Attack on Private Schools

It was not yet five o’clock on the morning of February 10, 2021, when the House of Representatives – against the advice of the federal government – passed an amendment aimed at abolishing the right of denominational schools to refuse, if they wish, to accept “homosexual or transgender” students into their midst.

The government presided over by Scott Morrison, for its part, supported a project more favorable to denominational private educational establishments, prohibiting them in principle from dismissing a student for reasons of homosexuality, unless they had a written policy on the subject. clearly expressing their position.

A clause which had been sharply criticized by the human rights commission of the parliament, denouncing the first version of a text which could “limit the right to equality and non-discrimination.”

A compromise which had originally been arranged with representatives of the Catholic Church and other denominations, but which the vote of last February 10 just shattered: “the modifications finalized in Parliament are not acceptable for the government and the many religious communities that we had consulted,” reacted the Australian Prime Minister.

On the Christian side, the hostile reactions were not long in coming: Family Voice Australia, pointing to a “wokism” offensive, described the February 10 election as “treason,” while Lyle Shelton, spokesperson for the Christian Democratic Party, considered for his part that Christian parents had been “left out in the cold.”

At the level of religious authorities, important nuances should be noted: if the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC) and certain conservative Protestant movements defend the possibility for schools to retain control over the recruitment of their pupils and their employees, it is not the same with the majority of Anglicans.

Nor even among certain Catholic organizations dedicated to social assistance, such as the Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul or the Mission of the Sacred Heart, whose positions are beginning to merge with those defended by the Anglicans or the Buddhists.

The divide even took a more controversial turn, when a Brisbane university run by the Pentecostals – Citipointe Christian College – threw a stone into the pond, asking the parents of students to sign a declaration according to which the fact of being homosexual or “transgender” would be “as destructive for human relations and society as pedophilia.”

Since then, the establishment has had to backtrack in the face of the outcry, and its director has been forced to take “indefinite leave.”

Finally, ironically, the outcome of the vote was made possible thanks to the defection of five MPs from the Australian Liberal Party – despite being members of the majority – who decided to vote for the Labor opposition: Balzac was right when he wrote, aiming at the liberals of the early 19th century, that “at all times, there are adjectives which are the master keys to ambition.”

Against all expectations, the lower house of the Australian parliament has just adopted a text reducing the leeway of private denominational establishments whose recruitment will have to be based on gender ideology. It is now the turn of the Senate, with a progressive majority, to decide.