State-funded education should mean children have a reasonable opportunity of choosing where they go to school, rather than their religion belief being the determinant, says CLA’s Richard Griggs.
CLA joins call for freedom of choice
Tasmania’s Legislative Council is being asked to reject a new law to allow religious schools greater powers to exclude children of different faiths.
The lower house of the Tasmanian Parliament has already approved the changes to the Anti-discrimation Act which would allow schools to consider a child’s religion when making enrolment decisions.
“Religious freedom is a fundamental civil liberty but it does not extend to excluding children from enrolling at publicly-funded schools because of their religion,” said Richard Griggs, Tasmanian Director of Civil Liberties Australia.
“Instead of increasing religious freedom, as the government intends, the laws will actually do the opposite and see students turned away from schools because of their religion,” Mr Griggs said.
A parent with a child in the system, Deirdre Murray,said: “Our Tasmanian Government should be confronting prejudice in education, not promoting it. In the interest of fairness all students deserve equal consideration when choosing a school.”
“The argument that Tasmania needs to fall into line with other states is a cop-out,” said Terry Polglase, Tasmanian President of the Australian Education Union. “Our state should lead on this issue, stand firm, and send a clear message to the nation that Tasmanians believe in choice of school for families.
“Giving publicly funded religious and independent schools more power to choose who they enrol will not lead to improved educational outcomes for our state’s children.The amendment needs to be rejected by the Upper House and Tasmania should lead on this issue,” he said.