Lesbian teacher denounces sacking of Sydney religious school
A teacher who says she was fired from a Sydney religious school for her sexuality spoke of the “devastating” experience.
Karen Pack worked at Morling College, a Baptist educational institution in Sydney, for two years.
However, after talking to co-workers about her engagement to longtime partner Bronte Scott last year, Karen says she was kicked out of religious school.
She also believes that a furious email attacking her sexuality also caused her current job to be terminated.
âIn February 2018, I signed a contract to become assistant lecturer [at the school], both times by simply checking that I could register with integrity â, Karen told the ABC 7.30.
âI was open with people and staff. I did not hide my sexuality.
A year later, Morling College offered Karen a new job. At that time, she signed a “code of conduct” created as a result of the same-sex marriage vote.
âI responded by saying, ‘Look, I am very happy to say that marriage is between a man and a woman, that it is a sacred and beautiful thing,â she said.
âI have no problem stating that. What you have to understand is that this is not the limit of what I am saying. It is not the only thing that recognizes and reflects the beauty and sanctity of God. ‘
“And they accepted that and were happy to have me sign the contract and continue to be on the staff.”
Angry email lambasted teacher Karen Pack’s ‘demonic actions’
However, in early 2020, Karen claimed that Morling College had received an email from a member of the public.
The author of the email asked the school to âreportâ Karen âimmediatelyâ for her sexuality and âdemonic actionsâ because she felt âdisgustedâ.
Morling College principal Ross Clifford told ABC that Karen herself had decided to leave. She could “no longer adhere to a key Morling value” on “the nature of marriage,” he said.
âAfter discussion and prayer,â Clifford explained, Karen left work.
However, Karen denies this. The school also told the students in a letter that “the decision for Karen to end her teaching role was made by the principal. [supported by] the board of trustees of Morling College.
“It was based on the College’s position on same-sex marriage set out in our community code,” the letter explained.
The College said Karen was an âexcellent and committed educatorâ and âa good friend, teacher and colleagueâ who was always âwarmly welcomedâ.
Karen said she shared her story because she knows two other teachers who were also dismissed from religious schools this year. As a result, one of her friends had mental health issues, she said.
“Painful journey” in the face of discrimination within the church
Karen Pack said she was a committed Christian, an ordained minister and had worked as a teacher for 25 years.
“[Growing] in a church, you are in a culture that tells you that your belonging and your worth is unconditional, âshe said.
“But the reality that you know you’ve internalized your whole life is that it’s actually conditional.”
She added: âIt has been an incredibly painful journey. I’ve been to churches where I’ve been called demonic while going to church.
“I’ve been to churches where there are back table petitions against people like me.”
Last month, Karen married her partner Bronte Scott in front of loved ones inside Uniting Church in Paddington, Sydney.
Equality Australia responds to sacking of religious school
The Sex Discrimination Act allows religious schools and other faith-based institutions to legally discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
Equality Australia is also concerned that the government’s controversial religious discrimination laws may give even more powers to discriminate.
âUnfortunately, Australian laws currently allow LGBTQ + teachers, students and staff to be fired or expelled from faith-based schools and institutions simply because of who they are or who they love,â said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
âThis discrimination remains legal in all states and territories except ACT and Tasmania.
âThe students at Morling College have lost a loyal and committed teacher who excelled at her job.
“Until Australian parliaments change laws to remove special privileges from faith-based institutions, schools and colleges like Morling will continue to be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ + teachers, students and staff with impunity.”
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