Abbotsleigh: Rescind your support of discrimination against LGBTIQA+ students & staff.
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Abbotsleigh is an Anglican school located in Wahroonga, on Sydney's upper North Shore. Alumni can attest to the warm, accepting, nurturing environment that the school has long provided for the children lucky enough to call themselves Abbotsleigh girls and we have grown into the strong, confident, empathetic people we are today in part thanks to the values which imbued our learning during our formative years. The Christianity we became familiar with spoke of love, tolerance, kindness and generosity, and whilst we were from a diverse range of backgrounds, we forged a strong sense of community around these core principles.
Unfortunately, it appears that the essence of what made our school such a wonderful place is being lost.
Upon learning that the current head mistress – Mrs Megan Krimmer – had signed an ‘Open Letter to all Members of Parliament of Australia’ in which numerous heads of Anglican schools advocated for their right to discriminate against LGBTIQA+ students and members of staff, many of us expressed shock, sadness and outrage.
It is irrelevant as to whether Abbotsleigh intends to ever exercise their right to remove an LGBTIQA+ student or member of staff from the school community. The harm is already being done. LGBTIQA+ students and staff are a reality regardless of whether they have ‘come out’ yet and are at risk of internalising the message that Abbotsleigh is publicly propounding: "we don’t want you here."
A couple of people have mentioned that people who do not agree with Anglican values can simply choose another school. Counterpoint: not all Anglicans wish to discriminate against LGBTIQA+ people, and a school that receives a large amount of public funding (as Abbotsleigh does) should not be allowed to discriminate against LGBTIQA+ people. Furthermore, not all children currently at the school are 'out', and even those that are aware that they are LGBTIQA+ may not be in a position where they can confide in their parents, let alone ask to be transferred to a more tolerant school. Regardless, Abbotsleigh has gone further than merely having the right to discriminate: it has publicly asked that it be allowed to retain this right. Other Anglican schools such as Kambala have refrained from making such public statements. This public support of discrimination is what this petition seeks to have retracted.
As alumni, we are concerned that this public display of intolerance could have devastating effects on the girls to whom Abbotsleigh owes a duty of care.
We will not stand by idly as children are put at risk by those who fail to practice the Christian values which they preach. We must stand up for those who are vulnerable so that they, too, have a chance to flourish as we did.
We implore Abbotsleigh to withdraw its public support for ‘religious exemptions’ and reaffirm its commitment to supporting diversity and tolerance within the Abbotsleigh community.
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