Rainbow Report: Religion in Secular Schools

The Rainbow Report, every Thursday 7pm AEDST, on Joy 94.9 Melbourne, news and current affairs for the LGBTI community.



 Podcasts of all the Rainbow Reports can be downloaded here.

 Why should we worry about religion in secular schools? Well, if you send your child for a secular education, and then find s/he’s being taught Scripture by a fundamentalist Christian, and worse, an amateur teacher, wouldn’t you be a bit mad? If s/he was only Instructed in one religion, instead of being taught by qualified teachers about many religions?

And if you’re gay, as I’m sure one or two of you are, how would you react if you found out that anti-bullying programs were not being put in place, or even removed, because they are alleged – by Christians and some right-wing journos  – to be a way of turning children gay by stealth? Some people want any discussion of sexual diversity kept out of sex education classes for the same reason – it’s ‘teaching children homosexuality’.

That’s the situation we have at the moment. It’s particularly bad in Queensland, where the fundamentalists have virtually taken control of both major parties, and have infiltrated the schools to the point where creationism is being taught as science in some classes.

Chrys Stevenson, better known to most of you as blogger Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear, recently attended the Separation of Church and State School Conference, hosted by the Humanist Society of Queensland on 13-14 October, and heard some chilling reports.

One man has had some success in fighting back the tide of Christian infiltration. He won his case in the High Court, cutting off funding for the schools chaplaincy program, but the government found a way round the ruling. Ron Williams is about to go back to court again to get this latest fix struck down.

Adam Smith is an education analyst – at least, that’s what the caption said when he was on The Project – who’s appalled by all these goings on. He joins me in the studio to help guide us through the minefield.

Why should we care? Well, pretty soon the government is going to be making changes to anti-discrimination law. One thing that many of us will keenly watch will be the extent of the religious exemptions, which currently allow any organisation with even quite a tenuous claim to be ‘religious’ to ignore anti-discrimination law with respect to sexual minorities.

I don’t know about you, but I want them gone. What do you think? Should religious businesses be allowed to discriminate or should they operate on a level playing field? Do you want chaplains and Christian religious instruction in secular schools? Do you want gay issues kept out of sex ed? Let me know.

During the show SMS your thoughts to 0427 JOY 949 or email (onair) @ (joy).(org).(au).

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)