Education Minister Yvette Berry has issued a reminder to ACT schools to be inclusive of the LGBTIQ community in the midst of the postal vote rollout on marriage equality.
Issued more than a week ago, Minister Berry’s warning comes after an ACT Christian college asked parents to vote no in the postal survey on same-sex marriage, Fairfax Media reports. Brindabella Christian College was reportedly concerned it may not be able to teach biblical views on marriage and family if the Marriage Act was changed.
“All ACT schools, both government and non-government run, are diverse environments that reflect the difference in our community. Students present to schools with a range of personal characteristics including diversity in gender identity and presentation, sexual orientation and intersex status,” Ms Berry said.
“Of course school leaders and staff, and parents and carers are free to hold their views on marriage equality but this cannot be allowed to occur in a way that damages the welfare of young LGBTIQ+ people.”
Minister Berry said the Government will soon launch the new Safe and Inclusive Schools Initiative to equip schools with access to resources and support to provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTIQ+ people. The Safe and Inclusive Schools Initiative will be available to all ACT schools, government and non-government run, who seek access to it.
But former Prime Minister Tony Abbott slammed the reminder as a “a pretty outrageous interference with freedom of speech and freedom of religion”.
“If that’s the way the school thinks, why can’t it speak its mind,” he said on 2GB Radio.
“If Woolworths and Qantas and these companies can speak their mind without anyone bullying them, why can’t the Brindabella Christian College speak its mind and give its advice without being bullied by the ACT government?”
“Obviously if the yes vote gets up it will be the supporters of same-sex marriage who will then have the signed blank cheque to fill out and you just can’t trust these people given the way they’re conducting themselves … now to ensure that these protections are there.”