School urges 'no' vote sparking fury from advocates
CALOUNDRA Christian College has weighed in on the upcoming same-sex marriage plebiscite - dividing parents and concerning LGBTIQ rights advocates.
The Sunshine Coast Christian school sent out a three-page letter to the school community, outlining their stance on the SSM vote and urging parents to vote 'no'.
The letter quoted Bible verses, discussed the traditional legal construct of marriage, and outlined the school's concerns about how a 'yes' vote could affect what religious schools could legally be allowed to teach students.
"For these reasons, our reservations in relation to the proposed redefinition of marriage itself and, regardless of what views may be held on that issue, the genuine and very valid concerns we hold about our ongoing ability to continue to teach and model a Christian view of marriage, we are, respectfully, asking all those associated with the College community to participate and vote 'no' in the survey," the letter from Caloundra Christian College principal Mark Hodges reads.
Although the school has urged parents and friends to vote no, Mr Hodges wrote that any LGBTIQ members of the school community are still loved by God.
"None of this is to suggest that those within our community who have a sexual preference other than heterosexuality, be that lesbian, gay or bisexual, or those struggling because their sense of themselves does not conform to dominant social stereotypes as transgender, are any less loved by God," the letter says.
"Our current societal discussion around marriage law is a policy and political debate rather than a pastoral conversation.
"As a Christian school, we will continue to strive to speak into both at the same time, we seek what is best both for our society, and for those within our particular College community."
One mum, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed her fury over the letter that was sent out to parents.
"It's pretty disgusting on behalf of the school, in my opinion, to be shoving their own narrow-minded and fear driven views onto the school community," she said.
"I can't imagine how any LGBT-identifying students or families with LGBT- identifying members are feeling today after the letter went out (on Tuesday)."
Sunshine Coast Pride Network co-chair Fiona Anderson said the letter was disheartening for any LGBTIQ students enrolled at Caloundra Christian College.
"The things they say in this letter are just ridiculous," she said.
"Even though they're saying in the letter that they love their LGBTIQ people in their school, they don't really because they're not wanting them to have equal rights. There are more than likely students there that are LGBTIQ.
"Their parents may know this, it's going to affect their parents and it's going to affect those children.
"It's going against those LGBTIQ students who are not out, who are still grappling with their sexuality or their gender identity."
In the letter, principal Hodges tells the school community the proposed law change flies in the face of their "biblical worldview".
"Against this background the current survey poses what is claimed to be a simple question, 'Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?'," Mr Hodges says in the letter.
"The question reflects a worldview, a lens through which a person views life and the world at large.
"The worldview that underpins the proposed changes is dramatically different to the biblical worldview to which we hold as a Christian school.
"The question implies an understanding of marriage as merely a legal construct, recognising the relationship between two adults removed from the traditional anchor of family and children and without the constraint of biological complementarity.
"It would represent a profound change for our society."
Ms Anderson hit back at the school's view on the traditional family of husband, wife and children.
"Whoever this person is has not gone out to see how many rainbow families there already are in our comm- unity," she said.
"(These families) are having successful families, successful outcomes for their children - having, wonderful, empathetic, moral children.
"They're basically saying in this letter if you're born out of a heterosexual relationship, there is something wrong with you and immoral."
The Daily put questions to principal Hodges, asking what the impact their SSM stance letter would have on the welfare of LGBTIQ students, but he declined to comment further than the content of his letter.