Following controversy around the anti-discrimination laws, 34 Anglican schools co-signed a letter in late October to the federal education minister asking to preserve a clause in the legislation to allow faith based schools to discriminate on the basis of sexuality and gender and “to select staff who support the Christian ethos, values and mission of our schools.”
The clause means employers can continue to legally sack teachers for being gay, living in a same sex relationship, receiving treatment from in-vitro fertilisation clinics or remarrying after divorce without receiving annulment by the church.
This letter was met with a wave of protest, particularly from the schools’ former students. St Catherine’s Class of 2012 wrote to the school leadership team condemning the right to discriminate against LGBTQI students and staff, and on the grounds of gender, relationship status and pregnancy.
Following the St Catherine’s protest, an open letter to the 34 schools had amassed 1000 signatures by 1 November. It had signatures from students alumni from 27 different schools, including Abbotsleigh, The Kings School, Sydney Church of England Grammar, Trinity Grammar and Barker College.
A number of principals then apologised for signing the letter, including those from Barker, St Andrew’s Cathedral School, Shore and Abbotsleigh.
St Andrew’s Head of School Dr John Collier told ABC’s Hack the letter was written in a "vast hurry".
“I agree it could have been better expressed,” he said.
On 8 November, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney was reported saying he was "deeply sorry" for the letter.