Aussie school apologises for controversial gender contracts for students

A 'very powerful' statement from the school has been welcomed by LGBTQI+ advocates in the wake of the controversy.

The school has apologised for the anti-LGBTI contracts sent to families. Source: AAP
The school has apologised for the anti-LGBTI contracts sent to families. Source: AAP

An Australian religious school has apologised and expressed regret for asking students and their families to sign 'gender contracts' in a controversial move that drew fierce criticism at the time.

Brisbane's Citipointe Christian College sent the documents to students stating the school can terminate a child’s enrolment based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual activity.

The contracts declared homosexuality was "sinful", like bestiality, incest and pedophilia and that gender dysphoria was a myth, stipulating that it would only enrol students on the basis of the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.

In 2022, the school called on the parents of students to sign the 'declaration of faith' on behalf of their children.

The contract sparked outrage, with more than 150,000 people ultimately signing an online petition calling for the school to rescind it. The petition stated "Citipointe is using their religious beliefs to openly discriminate against queer and trans students, as well as threatening to take away their education."

The matter was also referred by parents and former students to the Human Rights Commission over discrimination concerns.

The school eventually withdrew the contracts and principal Brian Mulheran stood aside.

LGBTQI+ flags left outside Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane in 2022. Source: AAP
LGBTQI+ flags left outside Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane in 2022. Source: AAP

Now the Pentecostal school in the city's southeast says it recognises that all members of the school community deserved to feel safe and respected.

"It is acknowledged that the issuance of the enrolment contract, coupled with a request for the prompt execution and return, caused distress and concern to some students and parents," the school said in a statement on Sunday.

"We regret any distress or concern which was caused to students, parents and guardians of students or prospective students of the college."

At the time, a video circulated on social media showing a distraught student reportedly reacting to the contract with their parents.

“I’ve been there for so long,” the student sobbed in the clip. Their parent comforted them, saying: “I know baby, we’ll think about what we can do, okay?”

“And leave all my friends behind?” they said, before calling the rules “absolutely stupid”.

“I’m not gay, I’m not transgender, I don’t plan to be, but for those who are, it’s terrible,” they said.

A video of the student speaking with her parents.
A TikTok video recorded a student's apparent distress over the contract. Source: TikTok

An agreement between the school and parents has been made following settlement discussions.

"The agreement shows the college's commitment to anti-discrimination and its support of inclusion," the school said.

"The college's ethos supports inclusion and understanding people of different faiths and beliefs."

The school said it is committed to the continued education of its staff and students on how to be respectful and value people regardless of their race, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Former teacher and parent Helen Clapham Burns said the statement was a step towards reconciliation between the school and LGBTI community.

"This statement is very powerful. It allows and demonstrates a conversation can take place between religious communities with different interpretations," she told ABC radio on Monday.

with AAP

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