Questionable Motives

October 4, 2009

Catholic School Boards and their right to discriminate

Filed under: Education,Religion — tildeb @ 9:51 pm

And not just in Canada, apparently:

REBECCA Ireland is not a typical victim of prejudice. Everything about her seems mainstream. In her Sunbury home yesterday, as her in-laws helped in the garden, Mrs Ireland was ”living the suburban dream” with husband, Peter, three kids, two dogs and a station wagon.

But back in 2004, the 31-year-old was an outsider. Before Rebecca and Peter married, she fell pregnant. It was unplanned, but welcomed. The problem was that Mrs Ireland taught at a Catholic primary school that disapproved of unmarried and single mothers.

The school indicated to Mrs Ireland, then known as Miss Harman to her students, that her contract would not be renewed. Facing the loss of maternity leave rights, Mrs Ireland took the case to the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. In mediation, the school backed down after the teacher signed an agreement not to promote her ”chosen lifestyle” to the students.

Entire article here.

This is an example of the largely unseen discrimination that will be allowed to continue under last week’s decision by Attorney-General Rob Hulls to grant religious organisations the right to continue to reject employees on the grounds of sex, sexuality, marital and parental status and gender identity. Mrs Ireland, a dedicated teacher who holds religious values, believes this simply is not good enough.

”I was a good teacher and came across as a good, moralistic person with values. And they employed me on that,” Mrs Ireland told The Sunday Age. ”I don’t think it should matter who you are or what you do in your private life. As long as you are qualified for the job.”

Mrs Ireland is not a Catholic, although she trained to teach in the Catholic system. She passionately believes that non-Catholic teachers in the system should not preach their own values and must ensure students get a religious education based on Catholic morals. ”I think the Catholic sector has a lot to offer children and parents. And I really believe that Jesus had a wonderful message of love, forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance and it is really important to impart that to children.”

Really? Has she read the NT, skipping entirely the small matter of eternal damnation for unbelievers? That’s a fine example of divine love in action we want to pass on to children. I think that the Catholic sector has a lot to offer children and parents, too… some of it even good!

But her experience at the school, in Melbourne’s north, underscored her belief that religious schools should not be allowed to discriminate against teachers who are divorced, single mothers, gay or lesbian, or who identify as a particular gender.

Ya think? Maybe now that it’s personal, I guess.


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