Equality Australia urges PM to act now and protect staff and students in religious schools

14 June 2024 – Equality Australia says Prime Minister Anthony Albanese must act now to protect students and staff in religious schools, or more people will suffer like the music teacher who was fired only last month. 

Charlotte* worked for two years as a music teacher at a religious school in Western Sydney before she lost her job after it was discovered she was in a same-sex relationship, according to media reports. 

“This is not an isolated incident. Every day teachers are being fired from their jobs or denied promotions and students have been forced out of school simply because of who they are,” said Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh. 

“For every brave person who speaks publicly there are countless more who have either been discriminated against because of who they are or are hiding it because they fear the repercussions.” 

One in three students and almost two in five staff are enrolled or employed in private schools, most of which are religiously affiliated.

“These schools rely on millions of dollars of public funding and yet they are legally allowed to fire a gay or trans teacher or deny them a promotion while LGBTQ students can be denied enrolment or held back from leadership roles,” Mr Kassisieh said.

“Labor made a promise to Australians before the last election to remove these exemptions if they formed government. We know the Bills are ready and it’s time the prime minister let the parliament do its job. 

“Charlotte should be the last teacher who is fired in Australia under these legal carveouts that allow religious schools to act with disregard for what is just and right, and without caring about the damage done to those they discriminate against. 

“As a county we believe in fairness and equality and that we should all have an equal right to be free from discrimination.“  

Media Contacts: Mike Hitch, mike.hitch@equalityaustralia.org.au, 0426 812 115 

Tara Ravens, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au, 0408 898 154