Former Students Of Anglican Schools 'Outraged', 'Disgusted' By Open Letter

Former students of the 34 Anglican schools who signed a letter to the government asking for protections to fire gay teachers have expressed their hurt, dismay and outrage.

"I was momentarily shocked, then super bloody enraged," Charlotte Meldrum-Hanna told 10 daily.

She's a former student of Abbotsleigh, one of 34 Anglican schools named in media reports who wrote to federal education minister Dan Tehan, demanding the right to fire teachers over their sexuality or gender.

"To see the signature on this garbage letter was insulting beyond all belief, and absolutely not what the Abbotsleigh community at large represents," said Meldrum-Hanna.

Some of the most prestigious schools in Australia signed the open letter, including Shore, The King's School, Trinity Grammar, St. Andrew's, Barker College and St. Catherine's School.

Brodie MacPherson, sister of actor Daniel McPherson and former student of St. Catherine's, said she was "ashamed to have ever attended this school".

Brodie posted this message to her 10,000 Instagram followers. Source: Instagram.

"I have a wonderful career as a manager in the entertainment industry, but if one day I wake up and decide I want to be a teacher, every school listed here could employ me [...] then fire me once they find out I'm in a same-sex relationship," she wrote on Instagram.

"While I know it's a hypothetical for me, this is a reality for teachers at these institutions."

Another Abbotsleigh girl, Freya Seale, wrote that if she had still been a student during this debacle, it might have "sent me that little bit too far over the edge".

Freya Seale graduated Abbotsleigh in 2009. Photo: Facebook.

"Instead of alienating them further, why not learn how you can cultivate a sage learning environment for these kids to be themselves?"

Almost 3,000 former Abbotsleigh students have signed an petition asking their school to withdraw its public support for 'religious exemptions'; a separate open letter to all 34 schools asking for the same has been signed by almost 2,000 people.

"I started this letter as I knew I would not be the only one disappointed with this action," Max Loomes, a former student of St Luke's Grammar School, told 10 daily.

Max identifies as heterosexual, but as countless friends and family who are queer and gender-diverse. Photo: Supplied.

"My peers and teachers were accepting and open-minded and they would not stand for this kind of behaviour. This open letter is a megaphone for students who would feel disenchanted and powerless otherwise."

Some of the schools named in the open letter have sent a near-identical statement out to parents, students and alumni, describing media reports about the yet-to-be-released Ruddock Review as "fear-mongering".

"We  encourage our students to think for themselves, to ask questions, not to take things at face value and challenge things that they see, in their eyes , may not be right," said letters from the Blue Mountains Grammar School and Abbotsleigh.

The letters also say that "the unhelpful comments about tenure of staff or students being threatened due to sexual preference does not apply" to these schools.

Other schools, such as Baker College, have released statements assuring that no students would be expelled for being queer, but that staff "are expected to uphold the Christian character of the school".

But the letters do not hold much water with former students who identify as queer.

"Old girls are feeling horrified and we've decided to take action," said Sale.

Abbotsleigh alumni are organising a peaceful protest, with fundraising going to an LGBTQIA+ youth organisation.

"I'm so ashamed [of my school], but so hopeful for the strong, powerful women who are coming forward, both LGBTQIA+ and allies."

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead photo: AAP