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Christian school lawfully sacked teacher for being gay

Michele Theil August 15, 2021
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Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade

Around 36,000 people attended the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at the SCG on 6 March, 2021. (Getty/ Brendon Thorne)

A Christian school was able to fire a teacher for coming out as gay under Australian law.

Steph Lentz told ABC Radio National that she was sacked by the Covenant Christian School in Sydney after coming out as gay in January.>

Religious freedom exemptions means the school did not break any anti-discrimination laws regarding LGBT+ people.

“I was in a heterosexual marriage [when I started there],” Lentz explained.

“Growing up in a very conservative Protestant environment, I believed for a long time heterosexual marriage was the only option for lifelong companionship.”

She continued: “It was after the breakdown of my marriage and some real reflection and soul searching that I first came out to myself. I also shared this with my family.”

Lentz explained that she wanted to tell the school “in the spirit of integrity and to honour the agreement I was under”

Her view is that “God doesn’t have a problem with it [and] Christian schools need queer people of faith to be models for students and families”, but the school did not agree.

It sent a letter to Lentz, informing her that she’d failed to adhere to the school’s Statement of Belief, which includes the “immorality” of “homosexual practices.

Lentz said: “I felt there was an opportunity to give the school my firm conviction it’s not incompatible to be gay and a Christian, and affirming of queer people and relationships.”

“But I was aware there was a possibility they wouldn’t engage with my point of view, and I’d be dismissed.”

Lentz explained her dismissal had a huge impact on her mental health and financial security, and that “many Christians” now look at her differently.

“They think you’ve somehow become a different person, and perhaps less of a person after you come out. That’s something I’ve found very personally troubling. It’s something I really want to see change,” she said.

Lentz is now working at a different Christian school that “is affirming” of her sexuality and “other queer staff employed there.”

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Christian Schools Australia defended the right to religious exemption for schools, with the spokesperson Mark Spencer stating that schools must stay “true to their core vision and values.”

Related topics: Australia

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