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School bars same-sex partners at formals

Thanks to Michael Murray for the link.

School bars same-sex partners at formals
Daniel Emerson

A senior Anglican education official in NSW has declared that people who believe in the Bible should not expect to be allowed to take same-sex partners to school balls because Christianity frowns on homosexuality.

Laurie Scandrett, chief executive of the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation, which oversees 15 of the 40 Anglican Schools in the NSW capital, has backed a controversial decision by a leading Brisbane Anglican boys school to prevent final year students from taking same-sex partners to its formal.

Dr Scandrett said there was no "edict" among its schools preventing gay students from taking their partners to school formals but it "would not be encouraged".

"The school formal is meant to be a formal dance between a young man and a young woman, not a young man and a young man," he said.

"If you believe what the Bible says, that's how you should behave or act. It boils down to what you believe.

"The Bible is very strong that marriage is between a man and a woman and homosexual relationships are not permissible in a sense, not encouraged, they are spoken very strongly against."

Dr Scandrett said he did have some sympathy for gay students who wished to take their partners to the coming-of-age function but people knew the position of Anglican schools on homosexuality when they enrolled.

"Most parents send their children to our schools because of the Christian values that our schools espouse, because our schools stand for biblical values," he said.

"We love all our [gay] students as we do all people in our churches but their lifestyle is not encouraged, particularly if it was a promiscuous lifestyle. We are dealing with young people here.

"In Sydney, a homosexual person is valued because they are a person but would not be appointed to a position in the diocese, but would be welcome in our churches because everyone is welcome."

Dr Scandrett said Anglican schools in NSW were permitted to ban gay couples at school events if they chose to.

"Each school is a legal individual entity," he said.

"In NSW the schools are exempted in the Anti-Discrimination Act so whatever decision the school made, they would be entitled to make it."

NSW Anti-Discrimination Board president Stephen Kerkyasharian and Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen have been contacted for comment.

Kelvin Canavan, executive director of Catholic Schools in Sydney, said the issue had never been raised in the Sydney Catholic education system but was unwilling to comment on what his response would be if it emerged in the future.

"If it ever does come up I will answer the question then," he said.

Public schools in NSW must adhere to the Anti-Discrimination Act and have been directed that it is "unlawful to discriminate against or harass a person on the grounds of race, sex, marital status, disability, homosexuality or age".

A NSW Education Department spokesman said same-sex couples would be allowed at school balls or formals in the state system.

"Discrimination is not tolerated in public schools. The Department's policies require principals to act against such behaviour, including homophobia," he said.

"Further, depending on the circumstances, it is likely that to refuse entry to same-sex partners at a school-organised formal would breach anti-discrimination legislation."



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