Gay Kids Should Keep Sexuality A Secret At School, Says Religious Leader
LGBTI students at religious schools should keep their sexuality a secret within the school environment or face expulsion, according to the Islamic Council of Victoria.
Spokesperson Adel Salman appeared on The Project on Wednesday night after a leaked portion of the government's review into religious freedoms sparked debate on whether religious schools should be allowed to discriminate against gay students and teachers.
"I do believe that religious schools should have the right to teach their particular religious viewpoint to the students, and be able to uphold the value and ethos of the school," said Salman.
"That would mean obviously the staff and students would need to abide by that in the school environment."
When Carrie Bickmore asked if students would be okay if they kept their sexuality quiet, he agreed.
Narelda Jacobs made an emotional plea, asking Salman that as a gay woman with a strong Christian faith, why a gay person coming out couldn't continue to embrace religion.
"I'm sure they could, but I think we have to be faithful adherents," he replied. "And the parents of the children that are going to the schools would expect the school to faithfully teach the religious values. That's the issue here. It's not about discriminating against anyone."
Earlier in the program, The Project had spoken Sally Rugg, Change.org director and LGBTI advocate who was instrumental in the passing of same-sex marriage in 2017.
"Australians voted for fairness, inclusion and equality," she said.
"We didn't vote for discrimination ... and in moments like this I think it's really important [that] if you know a young LGBTI kid, make sure that they know that you love them and you want them to be here."
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference released a statement on Wednesday night, simultaneously claiming that it has not sought to discriminate against students or teachers while also claiming that they should "adhere to the school's mission and values".
"I have not seen the religious freedom report cited in the media today, but Catholic schools welcome staff and students from all backgrounds who are willing to accept the declared mission and values of the school community," Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.
"We have not sought concessions to discriminate against students or teachers based on their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status.
"Once employed or enrolled, people within a Catholic school community are expected to adhere to the school's mission and values."
However, adhering to the values of a religious school can be deeply harmful to LGBTI students, who likely have little control over the school they attend.
Students who went through religious education told ten daily on Wednesday that they faced humiliation, bullying and erasure from the school's history for coming out.
"Students really picked up on that message from the adults around them that it was okay to bully me, and did," one girl, who identifies as bisexual, told ten daily.
"When my sisters came to the school, they were bullied by association with me and begged me to go back in the closet."
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Photo: The Project