Parents and friends of the Nowra Anglican College are pleased principal Lorrae Sampson has issued an apology in regards to the open letter urging the maintenance of exemptions in anti-discrimination legislation.
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However, members of the school community say more needs to be done to rectify the ‘deep hurt’ the letter, signed by numerous Anglican school principals, caused.
P&F president Stephanie Young said she believed Ms Sampson’s apology was genuine.
“I met with Lorrae last Friday [November 9] and I was satisfied with her apology,” she said.
“She was very genuine and apologetic for the hurt and distress her signature on that letter had caused.
“But I don’t think her written apology gave her true feelings justice.”
Prior to Ms Sampson’s apology, the parents and carers of NAC penned their own open letter to Ms Sampson and the school council.
The letter stated Ms Sampson’s signature on the open letter, addressed to federal parliament, had caused significant harm to both teachers and students.
“One significantly concerning implication of the position taken by the Sydney Diocese is the harm it can and will cause to some of our children whose brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather or carer may be gay, or who themselves may be gay,” it read.
“We do not want any child to suffer psychological harm caused by the perceived rejection, verging on absolute aversion to a person’s choice of a same sex partnership or marriage.”
The parents and carers who penned the letter said they believed anyone of any gender or sexual orientation should have a right to teach at anywhere, no matter the faith or religious backgrounds of the school.
“This is not an issue about protecting the freedom of religion and the freedom of religious schools to employ staff who ‘support the religious ethos of the school’, it is an issue about compassion, inclusion, acceptance and respect for diversity which surely reflects the Diocese description of the ‘overarching mission and ethos of the school’,” the letter read.
“We ask what sadly appears to be a rhetorical question – does the principal, the school council and the Diocese believe that it is impossible for those of the LGBQTI community who are staff members or students, to model and uphold the values of the school community?”
In her apology, Ms Sampson said this was not her belief.
“While I still seek a positive protection for freedom of religion, I can see how a public discourse about maintaining legislation as an exemption in discrimination acts has been deeply hurtful to many in our community.”
Ms Young said concerned members of the school community had invited Ms Sampson and the school council to meet with them to discuss the issue.
”I don’t think there are any plans on the school’s end for a formally arranged meeting however the school is very keen to keep the communication between parents open,” she said.
“Members of the parent body just want to be included and would like something like a forum to be held.
“When issues arise like this in future there needs to be consultation with the broader school community, their views should not be disregarded because these are issues that permeate right across the community."
Ms Young said she was also pleased Sydney Archbishop Dr Glenn Davies had apologised for the letter.
“That’s what people wanted to see,” she said.
“They wanted the diocese to move away from the discrimination exemption argument, everyone agrees there is a need for religious freedoms but that doesn’t mean discrimination.”
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