Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

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Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby M.C. » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:33 am UTC

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/appalling-law-lets-schools-expel-gay-students-20110211-1aqk2.html
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A SENIOR Anglican bishop calls it "appalling" and a gay and lesbian rights group condemns it as "deeply offensive", but the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, backs a NSW law that allows private schools to expel gay students simply for being gay.

Through a spokesman, Mr Hatzistergos, described the 30-year-old law as necessary "to maintain a sometimes delicate balance between protecting individuals from unlawful discrimination while allowing people to practise their own beliefs".

A relic of the Wran era when homosexuality was still a crime, the law exempts private schools from any obligation to enrol or deal fairly with students who are homosexual. An expulsion requires neither disruption, harassment nor even the flaunting of sexuality. Being homosexual is enough.

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Introducing the little-known law in the early 1980s, the then attorney-general Paul Landa told Parliament: "The facts of political life require acceptance of the claim of churches to conduct autonomous educational institutions with a special character and faith commitment."

But the churches are now divided. The Anglican bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, told the Herald: "I don't think our schools would want to use it."

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney declined to distance itself from the legislation. A spokeswoman said: "The focus for our schools has always been on supporting our students regardless of the circumstances."

Political support may also be fracturing. "It is an unusual provision in this day and age," the shadow attorney-general, Greg Smith, told the Herald.

He cannot speak for his party, only himself. "I personally think it is something that should be reviewed, looked at with a view to perhaps changing it. Times have changed."

The chief executive of ACON, Nicolas Parkhill, condemned the law as "deeply offensive, patently unethical and damaging to our society on multiple levels. Recent research shows that young same-sex-attracted people are up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and that 80 per cent of the verbal or physical abuse they experience occurs in schools.

"Allowing religious schools to reinforce this negative experience by giving them the right to expel the victims of homophobic attitudes is incomprehensible."

Although "not untroubled" by the legislation himself, the chief executive of Christian Schools Australia, Stephen O'Doherty, told the Herald the 130-plus low-fee schools in his association saw no reason to ditch the law. Many of the schools regard unrepentant gay students as "disruptive to the religious teaching of the school", he explained. "What we seek to do is to be able to take appropriate action which may include expulsion."

Brigadier Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby has no qualms about the law. The head of the influential Christian pressure group said a church school should have the right to expel any openly gay child.

"But I would expect any church that found itself in that situation to do that in the most loving way that it could for the child and to reduce absolutely any negative affects.

"I think that you explain: this is a Christian school, that unless the child is prepared to accept that it is chaste, that it is searching for alternatives as well, that the school may decide that it might be better for the child as well that he goes somewhere else. I think it's a loving response."


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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:36 am UTC

Just fact questions.

1. Are private schools truly private entities(ex, do they get government funding).

2. has this rule actually been used anywhere?
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:40 am UTC

A relic of the Wran era when homosexuality was still a crime, the law exempts private schools from any obligation to enrol or deal fairly with students who are homosexual. An expulsion requires neither disruption, harassment nor even the flaunting of sexuality. Being homosexual is enough.


It looks like this isn't so much as "news" as it is an article calling attention to an aging law. Just a few decades ago, Psychologists classified Homosexuality as a mental illness, and this law clearly reflects the thinking of that time.

So old law is bad. I agree with the general message of the article, but I don't think its as bad of a situation as the article makes it out to be. Then again, I'm not really well-versed in Australian culture, nor do I know how well homosexuals are treated over there.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby phlip » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:51 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:1. Are private schools truly private entities(ex, do they get government funding).

Private schools do get a heap of government funding over here. I don't know the exact numbers, how much they get compared to public schools (reliable numbers aren't coming out of Google quickly... just highly politicised pages on both sides), but they do get it.

[ninjedit] KE: the story isn't the law (which is, as you say, old and antiquated) but the people who still think it's a good law... including the AG and a bunch of Christian school leaders.

I'm particularly disturbed by the "the school should kick out the gays but do it 'in the most loving way that it could'" part...

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:08 am UTC

All girls/boys schools are still legal aren't they? I don't see how this is different, although I'm not a fan of either.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Triangle_Man » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:12 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:All girls/boys schools are still legal aren't they? I don't see how this is different, although I'm not a fan of either.


My guess is that the feeling is that we shouldn't be able to descriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in much the same way we shouldn't be able to discriminate on the basis of race.

This is entirely rational.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:14 am UTC

Triangle_Man wrote:
Iulus Cofield wrote:All girls/boys schools are still legal aren't they? I don't see how this is different, although I'm not a fan of either.


My guess is that the feeling is that we shouldn't be able to descriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in much the same way we shouldn't be able to discriminate on the basis of race.

This is entirely rational.


But we should be able to discriminate on the basis of sex? Or am I misreading you entirely?

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Gopher of Pern » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:08 am UTC

phlip wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:1. Are private schools truly private entities(ex, do they get government funding).

Private schools do get a heap of government funding over here. I don't know the exact numbers, how much they get compared to public schools (reliable numbers aren't coming out of Google quickly... just highly politicised pages on both sides), but they do get it.

[ninjedit] KE: the story isn't the law (which is, as you say, old and antiquated) but the people who still think it's a good law... including the AG and a bunch of Christian school leaders.

I'm particularly disturbed by the "the school should kick out the gays but do it 'in the most loving way that it could'" part...


I always hear that private schools get more funding than public, but whether that is because there are more students, or what I dont know.

On one hand I can see their point, a christian school should probably only accept students who follow their faith. That said, I know alot of students at christian schools who are atheist or of other religious persuasion. On the other, there should be no discrimination, especially in a learning environment.

I disagree with private schools that are attached to a religion in general anyway.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby phlip » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:18 am UTC

Gopher of Pern wrote:I always hear that private schools get more funding than public, but whether that is because there are more students, or what I dont know.

Yeah, I was going to say, I've heard that too... but I don't know the details (whether that's total or per student or some other metric; whether it's taken out of some context that makes it sane; whether it's even true) and Google isn't being helpful.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby EmptySet » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:45 am UTC

Gopher of Pern wrote:I always hear that private schools get more funding than public, but whether that is because there are more students, or what I dont know.


This is a thing called "lying outrageously, but with statistics".

See, the Commonwealth government gives about twice as much money to non-government schools as to government schools. Also, the majority of funding for private schools comes from the government (and the remainder from fees). This is where claims about how it's so outrageous that the government spends all this money propping up private schools comes from. You can see in the latter case that they're using a logical fallacy - "The majority of private school funding comes from the government, so the majority of government funding must go to private schools!" - but the statistic about the federal government spending more on private schools is technically correct.

However, what they neglect to mention is that education is primarily a responsibility of state government. The states and territories spend about four times as much on schools as the federal government, and about 90% of that goes to government schools. Combined government spending on state schools is far higher both in aggregate and per full-time equivalent student than it is for private schools.

Sources are an ABS report on social trends from 2006 detailing education trends and a policy brief from the Australian Council for Education Research (PDF) (handy pie chart on page 4).

Also roughly 65-70% of kids are in government schools, though that has been falling.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:11 am UTC

phlip wrote:Private schools do get a heap of government funding over here. I don't know the exact numbers, how much they get compared to public schools (reliable numbers aren't coming out of Google quickly... just highly politicised pages on both sides), but they do get it.

The Age wrote:In 2007-08, Victorian government schools received total government funding of about $11,000 per student. Private schools received about $6000 per student.

I imagine it would be similar in NSW.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Hawknc » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:36 am UTC

It is, except in NSW, government funding is $11,000 per student for private schools, $6,000 per student for public schools, and $20,000 per student for private contractors and consultants.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Inny Binny » Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:16 am UTC

If they're being funded at all by any sort of government, as it seems like they are, then this is of course ridiculous and they should not be allowed to discriminate like that. They probably shouldn't actively promote any viewpoint at all (pro-gay, anti-gay, atheism, creationism etc.); only act as an institution for education; let the teachers and the children have their own views which they can talk about if they want to.

If the schools are entirely private, then it's not really a black and white issue...I think private clubs obviously should be allowed to pick whoever they want, and even the BNP should probably have been allowed to have a white-only membership (having different races in their party kind of dilutes their main message)...is something like education different? Or, as a private entity, should it be treated just like any other members-only club?

I'm not sure. I really think anti-discrimination laws over-reach sometimes...you should be allowed to choose by race, age, sex etc. as long as there's a good business case behind it. Car shops might want salesmen, restaurants might want waitresses, race relations centres might want blacks, and the media might want young journalists. Being a man, a woman, a black or a young person could absolutely be as important a qualification as any other learned skill.

But education...it's hard. But then, as long as we allow parents to teach their children creationism or that homosexuality is wrong (which they clearly should be allowed to do), is a private entity teaching them the same thing any different?

Don't know, really.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Dream » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:24 pm UTC

Inny Binny wrote:Don't know much about anything, really.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:47 pm UTC

That's not really a fair retort, Dream.

The article in question is in reference to an Australian school, but I wonder what people would think if, say, an organization of Young Earth Creationists flooded public schools with kids trained in effectively filibustering the proceedings of a biology class. Or a class on tolerance, etc.

Yes, this sucks and is crazy pants that tax money is going to support this sort of thing.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby phlip » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:33 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The article in question is in reference to an Australian school, but I wonder what people would think if, say, an organization of Young Earth Creationists flooded public schools with kids trained in effectively filibustering the proceedings of a biology class. Or a class on tolerance, etc.

Then they'd be disciplined for disruption... ie what they're doing, not who they are...

Being gay is not per se disruptive.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:21 am UTC

Of course not, and I'm not trying to suggest it is.
Unless, you're, say, teaching your pupils that homosexuality is a sin and blahblahblah religious fundamentalism crap, in a school funded by the students parents.

I'm obviously arguing for something I on some levels disagree with, but I don't feel the solution to this issue is forcing a government okay'd curriculum on everyone, even those who choose to not educate their children under tax payer dollars. I hate the idea of enforcing ignorance, but support a parents right to teach their children whatever they want so long as they do it on their dime.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Inny Binny » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:20 am UTC

Dream wrote:
Inny Binny wrote:Don't know much about anything, really.


Shit, you really killed me there.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby PeterCai » Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:06 am UTC

Dream wrote:
Inny Binny wrote:Don't know much about anything, really.

Ooh,look at me so cleverly disguising personal attacks as altered quote.


You sir, are brilliant.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby EmptySet » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:10 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Of course not, and I'm not trying to suggest [that being gay is disruptive per se].
Unless, you're, say, teaching your pupils that homosexuality is a sin and blahblahblah religious fundamentalism crap, in a school funded by the students parents.

I'm obviously arguing for something I on some levels disagree with, but I don't feel the solution to this issue is forcing a government okay'd curriculum on everyone, even those who choose to not educate their children under tax payer dollars. I hate the idea of enforcing ignorance, but support a parents right to teach their children whatever they want so long as they do it on their dime.


Non-government schools in Australia already have to follow curriculum guidelines set by the government, and home-schooling is also subject to certain requirements (exactly what depends on the state, I believe). Also, as has been mentioned, "non-government" schools in Australia still receive public funding, and are thus accountable to the government for what they're doing with that money.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:43 pm UTC

Which is why I clearly stated that I don't care what they do with teaching their kids so long as...
Izawwlgood wrote:they do it on their dime.

I also recognize that this may not apply to Australian schools.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Dream » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:49 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:That's not really a fair retort, Dream.

No, but if a person is assessing the issues around discrimination from the point of view of the discriminator, and presents a few simplified cases of positive reasons without critical analysis, I don't really see the point of responding beyond "that's dumb". This:
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basically says that employers should be allowed to reinforce and enshrine in policy prejudice based on age, sex and race if that's good for business. Which is the reason an old employer of mine told me I was out front selling because I was white (in spite of my extensive sales experience, it was because of my colour) and my friend was in an airless, windowless stockroom all day because she was Chinese, and that's what the customers expect. In fact, the only reason I was hired at all was that the owners were Indian, and wanted a white face in their upmarket store.

Discrimination law isn't written for businesses, schools or governments. It is written for victims of discrimination.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Cleverbeans » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:49 pm UTC

It seems unclear to me why discrimination against religious groups should be favored over discrimination against gays. If enrollment is voluntary and equivalent educational services available to everyone I think it's only fair to allow religious schools the ability to practice their religion within that system even when we disagree with their choices. Give religion enough rope, and they'll hang themselves - persecute them and you spend a few thousand years cleaning up the mess.

As for government funding of religious schools I fail to see how it's relevant to the discussion. Education is compulsory, religious people pay taxes too, they should receive funding and be allowed to maintain specialized schools. I'd be up in arms if my kids were forced to take participate in religious education, so I'd completely understand if religious people felt the same way about secular education. Funding should be allocated based on enrollment, not the bias d'jour under the guise of separation of church and state.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby Dream » Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:01 pm UTC

Cleverbeans wrote:I'd be up in arms if my kids were forced to take participate in religious education, so I'd completely understand if religious people felt the same way about secular education

Secular education doesn't imply teaching any particular belief system. So if a secular school is giving kids ideas that their parents don't like, there's a problem besides the secularity of the school itself. That problem could be with the parents (evolution is evil lies!) or the school (time off for religious observance wouldn't be secular!), but it has nothing to do with the school being a place where religion isn't taught.

Religious education implies the teaching of some particular moral code, which may or may not be inherently objectionable in the minds of those attending the school.

Apples to oranges.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:59 pm UTC

Dream wrote:
Cleverbeans wrote:I'd be up in arms if my kids were forced to take participate in religious education, so I'd completely understand if religious people felt the same way about secular education

Secular education doesn't imply teaching any particular belief system. So if a secular school is giving kids ideas that their parents don't like, there's a problem besides the secularity of the school itself. That problem could be with the parents (evolution is evil lies!) or the school (time off for religious observance wouldn't be secular!), but it has nothing to do with the school being a place where religion isn't taught.

Religious education implies the teaching of some particular moral code, which may or may not be inherently objectionable in the minds of those attending the school.

Apples to oranges.


Agreed. The absence of religious teaching is perfectly appropriate, and parents have no right to be annoyed by it. If the school's were teaching an opposing religion, then their disagreement might make sense, but that's not what's happening.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby EmptySet » Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:36 am UTC

Cleverbeans wrote:As for government funding of religious schools I fail to see how it's relevant to the discussion. Education is compulsory, religious people pay taxes too, they should receive funding and be allowed to maintain specialized schools. I'd be up in arms if my kids were forced to take participate in religious education...


Then for context, I should probably point out that "secular" education in Australia frequently isn't. A lot of government schools still have religious education classes, and by "religious education" I mean "compulsory Christian preaching", which is what happened at every government school I attended. There was even a big controversy over schools in NSW having the temerity to schedule secular ethics classes in the same slot as scripture and "special religious education", as an alternative for the students whose parents did not want them attending the (non-compulsory, unlike my schools) religious classes. Prior to the trial of ethics classes, kids who were not in scripture or SRE for whatever reason - for instance, because they were Muslim and only Christian classes were offered, or they just weren't religious - generally just go sit in the library and maybe watch a movie or something.

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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby M.C. » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:47 am UTC

It's not the need for the schools to be secular. This law staying will cause incredible harm.

Most private schools are religious in name only; they sing a few hymns and have religious class every week or so, but it's just the institution. Nearly all of the kids at school are not terribly religious, or at least the religious ones are accepting of homosexuality. (At least as accepting as high schoolers can be.) There is a trend towards placing more children in private schooling as the perception is that they will get a better education. This means that the old men who own the school can basically decide that gays don't get a good education, even though the school is not itself religious.

Secondly, and far more worringly, is the fact that since high school runs from 13-18 yo, chances are kids will already be attending the school when they realize their homosexuality. Expelling them isolates them from their entire friend network, in the middle of the most tense and stressful time of their lives. But I guess, gays don't need friends and support networks.
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Re: Religious Schools legally allowed to expel gay students

Postby McCaber » Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:07 am UTC

I went to a religious school here in the states, and this actually happened to a few of my friends. Including one of the best lab partners I ever had.

So yeah, it can be an issue sometimes.
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