Nearly a thousand current and former students of the Trinity Christian School in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have joined a Facebook page to show their support for same-sex marriage after the school’s principal forwarded a letter from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) asking them to contact lawmakers who will soon vote on a bill allowing same-sex couples to wed.
In the letter, which has been seen by GSN, ACL managing director Lyle Shelton claims that same-sex sex marriage being passed in the ACT will lead to restrictions on freedom of belief and freedom of speech – claiming that churches could eventually be forced by law to perform them against their will.
Trinity principal Andrew Clayton forwarded the letter to all parents at the school via email ahead of the ACT Government tabling its bill, adding, ‘Although this is not a usual practice for me as principal, I believe it is an appropriate response given the potential this bill has to impact the very nature of our school.’
The ACL letter quoted comments by Australian Cardinal Archbishop George Pell at a lecture last month where he claimed, ‘[If] same-sex marriage comes to pass in Australia, there will then be enormous pressure to present homosexual unions as being as valid as real marriage, and to prevent the teaching of the Christian understanding of sexuality, marriage and family, even in church schools.
‘There will be even more pressure to silence people who oppose same-sex marriage and to force them to cooperate with it.’
The letter resulted in a backlash from students and parents with over 900 joining a Facebook page, ‘Trinity Christian School Students and Alumni for Marriage Equality,’ set up by a former student at the school, Michael Mazengarb.
‘Several people I went to school at Trinity with are in same sex relationships but during school, really struggled with themselves as they were taught that they were sub par humans if they were true to themselves,’ wrote former student and Facebok user Lisa Campbell.
‘This goes far beyond marriage equality because the ramifications of not supporting equality and teaching this mentality to young students is essentially telling them that it's not "normal" to be attracted to someone of the same sex and therefore fosters yet another generation of bullies and more teen suicides. I, for one, do not want my children thinking that different equals wrong. That's my issue with a letter being sent to parents encouraging them to lobby against equality, regardless of who sent it and how sugar coated it was.’
‘I nearly died of shame when I read … about this letter to parents,’ wrote parent Juliane Samara.
‘As an ex-Trinity parent, I would have been furious if I had received it. In my experience, the school and it's teachers failed many times to show compassion, tolerance and love for students who did not fit into the "black and white" Christian mold. This applied to children with mental illness, behavioral issues and families where the marriage broke down. Life is short, people are all different and have the right to live their lives however they want to. At the end of the day, it is between the person and God to settle what was right and what was wrong, not churches, schools or politicians.’
Students also snuck into the school’s junior school car park earlier this week and chalked an LGBT pride rainbow crossing across the entranceway, with another being chalked elsewhere on the school grounds.