UPDATED Wednesday 20 July 2016 3pm
A prominent school in Sydney’s northwest has asked teachers to use gender-neutral terms when addressing students, as part of the school’s implementation of the Safe Schools programme, according to News Corp reports. The school in question – Cheltenham Girls High School – has told The Guardian that there was no basis for the News Corp reports.
Amid the reports, fears have resurfaced that Christian students who hold opposing views to what the schools holds up as ‘mainstream’, will continue to be ostracised by schools adopting the controversial scheme.
In February this year, Eternity spoke to one mother from a Sydney school (who prefers to remain anonymous, for the sake of her daughter) who shared her daughter’s experience of what it’s like to go against the tide after the school had begun implemented the Safe Schools programme, including events like ‘Wear It Purple’ day.
From Tuesday 16 February 2016
When her school held a ‘Rainbow’ mufti day to celebrate sexual diversity, Clare* (name changed) decided to wear her uniform. She cried the night before.
That was two years ago. Now, at age 14, Clare is terrified of another day like it. Eternity spoke to Clare’s mother about some of the experiences her daughter has had as a Christian at school, and as someone who is learning to stand up for what she believes.
Clare’s mother wants to remain anonymous. She has been vocal at the Sydney government school her daughter attends, writing letters and meeting with the Principal to raise concerns about days like the ‘Rainbow Mufti Day’. Clare’s school has also become members of the Safe Schools Coalition, who have developed the All Of Us teaching material that has been widely debated in the media.
Like many parents Eternity has spoken to, Clare’s mother is worried about any implications her own activism might have on her daughter at school.
“She’s solid in her faith, but Christians at school are made to feel silly because they belong to a faith group that isn’t ‘politically correct’,” Clare’s mother said.
The Rainbow Day at the school wasn’t specifically compulsory, but Clare’s mother said it was “compulsory by default”. The school put the rainbow flag on the flagpole that day.
“You stand out in the crowd if you don’t take part.” Clare and a few other Christian students turned up to school that day in their uniform. Other Christian students wore mufti, but didn’t wear bright colours. One student wore jeans and a black t-shirt.
Now, with the school signing up to the Safe Schools Coalition, Clare’s mum is worried that a similar mufti day, or ‘Wear it purple’ day and a lot of other things where students are expected to “celebrate sexual diversity” will be on the agenda.
“Clare found it difficult to wear her uniform last time. But we spoke about it and it’s what she felt she had to do. But she’s a kind girl. She doesn’t want to discriminate against anyone.
“She doesn’t want to be singled out. She doesn’t want to be called homophobic.
“It’s becoming increasingly uncomfortable for Christian students in state schools to have a voice and raise that voice.”
* Featured image is a generic school picture, and is not a representation of the school in this story.