A mother at a Christian school which demanded parents sign a contract allowing their children to be expelled if they don’t adhere to ‘doctrinal precepts’ about sexuality and gender has opened up in an emotional interview on The Project.
Helen Clapham Burns was also a teacher at the Citipointe Christian College in Carindale, Queensland but quit on Monday saying she couldn’t continue to work for a school that would do that to children.
The contract states that homosexuality is a sin, immoral and ‘destructive to human relationships and society’.
Ms Burns said on Monday’s program she ‘couldn’t agree to be a teacher in a school that had that vocabulary and language around some of the most vulnerable kids that we interact with.’
‘As an educator, my priority is to make sure that each child that I interact with feels safe. When a child tells us, with tears in their eyes, that they don’t feel safe, what are we doing?’ she said.
The show’s hosts, notably Carrie Bickmore, looked on the verge of tears as Ms Burns gave an emotional interview.
Citipointe Christian College in Queensland (pictured) has demanded parents sign a contract agreeing that homosexuality is immoral and that students must conform to their biological sex and can be expelled if they do not
Parents are told to confirm they agree that male and female terms in respect to ‘uniforms, presentation, terminology, use of facilities and amenities, participation in sporting events and accommodation’ must adhere to a child’s biological sex.
‘At the beginning of enrolment and during enrolment, if they don’t adhere to this we terminate the enrolment. I can’t work for an organisation that does that to kids,’ Ms Burns said.
‘The extra element of being a queer kid in a Christian environment is you think you’re going to hell. I don’t even know how you walk through the day with that.’
She added that no child should be made to feel ‘less than human’.
An emotional Ms Burns said she taught senior English classes on Monday and was shattered at having to leave her students.
‘I’m heartbroken. I feel like I’ve let them down that I’m having to leave.’
‘But I have to let those queer kids know that there are Christians out there that love them and aren’t hiding behind Bible verses and are letting them know that they are safe with me.’
She added she has also been forced to rush to find a different school for her son just days out from him starting Year 11 and he ‘won’t get to graduate with his mates’.
Helen Clapham Burns (pictured) quit as a teacher at the school, where her children also attend, on Monday saying she could not in good conscience work for a school who used that vocabulary around vulnerable kids
A petition by former Citipointe student Bethany Lau condemning the school’s contract has gained 80,000 signatures in two days.
‘Citipointe is using their religious beliefs to openly discriminate against queer and trans students, as well as threatening to take away their education,’ Ms Lau wrote.
Principal, Pastor Brian Mulheran released a statement on Saturday night.
‘We have always held these Christian beliefs and we have tried to be fair and transparent to everyone in our community by making them clear in the enrolment contract,’ the statement said.
‘We are seeking to maintain our Christian ethos and to give parents and students the right to make an informed choice about whether they can support and embrace our approach to Christian education.’
‘Citipointe does not judge students on their sexuality or gender identity and we would not make a decision about their enrolment in the College simply on that basis.’
The Project host Carrie Bickmore (pictured) was visibly moved by Ms Burns emotional interview
‘We believe each individual is created in the image of God, with dignity and worth equal to every other person. We unequivocally love and respect all people regardless of their lifestyle and choices, even if those choices are different to our beliefs and practice.’
Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said she did not support the school’s position.
‘Every student deserves to feel accepted and supported at school. The ‘values’ laid out in this document don’t seem very Christian to me,’ she said.
‘I’ve raised the issue with the Attorney General around anti-discrimination laws, and I’d encourage parents, carers, or students at the school to report this to the Human Rights Commission.’
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