Even though the report of the Ruddock review into religious freedom has not been officially released, leaks of parts of the document by Fairfax media have been generating heated public debate over the past week.
The debate has mainly centred around the issue of whether religious school should have the freedom to expel students based on their sexuality.
Unfortunately, this is a dishonest argument being used by some irresponsible media outlets and politicians to score political points.
Anyone who is involved in education, such as parents, teachers, and principals, knows that these issues are never dealt with lightly. Each unique case needs to be handled with sensitivity in collaboration with everyone involved and must be done in the child's best interest.
However, as a result of the overreaction to this argument, the government is now rushing to change the law to protect gay students from this imaginary threat.
In fact, these are the real issues that needs to be debated:
Should religious schools be allowed to only employ staff and teachers who share the school's religious beliefs, including its position on marriage and sexuality?
Should schools that refuse to employ staff because they don't share the school's values continue to receive public funding?
Should parents have the right to choose schools that teach values consistent with their family’s values?
Should tax money continue to be allocated to schools that only employ staff who believe in, and will pass on, the values that families at the school cherish?
The answer is of course, “yes”.
That's why it's important for the government to put in safeguards so that religious schools may continue to have this freedom without being stripped of their public funding, as many opponents have proposed.
Please email or call your local federal member of Parliament and let them know what you think regarding this crucial issue. You can look up their contact details here:
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was promised to release the Ruddock review, along with the Government’s response, by the end of this year.
We will continue to keep you updated as the debate unfolds.