ALA, which represents Australian plaintiff lawyers, said exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act should be removed so that “every child can safely attend any school without experiencing discrimination based on their sexuality or gender orientation”.
Specifically, the ALA is calling for the repeal of the section 38(3) exemption that allows for discrimination by faith-based schools. In addition, the ALA is proposing that section 37 of the act is amended, “so that it is clear that section 37d does not apply to schools”.
“Every child has a right to education, irrespective of their sexuality or gender identity,” ALA national president Noor Blumer said.
“Allowing organisations to discriminate, directly or indirectly, is a serious erosion of this right to education.”
It is possible for a balance to be struck, she said, that respects a faith-based school’s right to maintain its religious ethos without discriminating against its students.
“We know that the damage caused by discrimination at school can have long-lasting and serious consequences for LGBTI people. The law is there to protect people from the harm and disadvantage that can be caused by discrimination and so these exemptions need to be removed.”
“Discrimination law is complex and fully removing the exemption in the act is the best way to avoid further confusion. The current exemption is just unnecessary as there other are already laws in place that allow private schools to impose reasonable conditions on students to uphold their values.”