Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Brisbane's Citipointe Christian College defends demanding parents sign contract on student gender identity, homosexuality

Why is this controversial? There are plenty of other schools the sexually abnormal can go to. Let them choose a school that accepts them and leave Christians free to obey the repeated statements in the Bible about sexual deviance being an abomination to God. See Romans chapter 1. It's not as if anybody is compelled to go to that school.

And the limits the school imposes could well make it popular with many parents, Christian or not. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle many parents would want for their children.

Up until relatively recently, the American Psychological Asociation categorized homosexuallity as a mental illness -- until Leftist pressure got that expunged. The long term adverse consequences of homosexuality remain, however. There have always been homosexuals in my social circle and I have seen the sadness that eventually comes to them. Women, by contrast, have always been a source of happiness to me.

I sent my son to a Catholic school precisely because I thought he would get Christian teachings there. He did. Even under Pope Francis, church teachings on homosexuality have remained unwavering in opposition to it

Citipointe Christian College on Brisbane's southside sent families a contract last Friday and said parents must sign the contract or unenrol their child from the school.

More than 26,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the college recall the enrolment contract, with organisers arguing the school is "using their religious beliefs to openly discriminate against queer and trans students".

In an e-mail to parents on Friday, principal Pastor Brian Mulheran said the new clauses in the enrolment contract were included to "ensure that we retain our Christian ethos, which is the foundation of what has made the College what it is today".

The contract states "the college will only enrol the student on the basis of the gender that corresponds to their biological sex" to maintain consistent with the college's "Christian Ethos Requirements".

The contract goes on to state that the college "acknowledges the biological sex of a person as recognised at birth and requires practices consistent with that sex".

Another clause states the college has the right to "exclude a student from the college" should they not adhere to the "doctrinal precepts including those as to biological sex".

To keep their child enrolled at the school, parents must agree with a set of "religious beliefs" laid out in a "Declaration of Faith" attached to the contract.

Part of the declaration states that "any form of sexual immorality (including but not limited to; adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, bisexual acts, bestiality, incest, paedophilia, and pornography) is sinful and offensive to God and is destructive to human relationships and society".

'We weren't given any warning that this was happening'
A parent, who is also a teacher at Citipointe and did not want to be named, said she was "saddened that students who are struggling or going through their journey of finding out who they are were going to be encased in more vocabulary of them being 'other' and not accepted".

"As an educator whose priority it is to look after a child, and as a parent wanting to bring up a young [child] to be a functioning member of this society, I knew I was in trouble as to whether I could sign this document," she said.

She said she was "extremely angry" about the timing of the contract's release because students were starting school today. "I felt very much backed into a corner," she said.

"We, as the staff, weren't told about [the contract amendments]. I only found out about it because I was a parent."

She said she was now looking for another school for her child because she was unable to sign the amended enrolment contract.

"I am having to ask [the child] now to leave their friends through no fault of [their] own. We weren't given any warning that this was happening, and we've been told you either sign it or you have two weeks leeway to go," she said.

"I feel like my options are very, very limited."

She also said this would have a wider impact on the community at Citipointe.

"It is going to be so divisive in the school. It's going to separate people. And that's not my understanding of what the Christian faith is all about," she said.

A 2018 Citipointe alumnus Bree Leitch, who identifies as bisexual, said she was "pretty floored" when her parents received the amended contract on Friday.

She said her brother has been attending the school and he was supposed to start Year 12 today.

"I'm worried about what my brother is going to do and how he's going to get his education and graduate this year, and I'm really wanting to do something about it," Ms Leitch said.

Ms Leitch said she came to terms with her bisexuality when she was in Year 12 at Citipointe.

"I remember when I was in school, I would always think, 'If I was gay, I would never come out' … that would just be so hard. So scary," she said.

"And you just don't know what would happen, whether you'd get kicked out, there was just so much fear there.

"And having to just keep that part of me completely silent, and question it alone without being able to talk to anyone about it is pretty scary."

Ms Leitch said the amended contract was a "horrible thing" but "it means that it's something we can fight directly."

"It's something that's there and it exists, and it's black and white. And we're able to be say 'this is not OK'… we have a platform to build off of now," she said.

Ms Leitch said she wanted queer students at Citipointe, and other schools, to know they were not alone.

"You're valid and these things they're saying is not true. Don't let it change how you see yourself and don't let it make yourself think that you're not worthy. This whole community of people will stand behind you and support you, and we're doing to do everything we can to change this experience for you."

School has 'certain freedoms' under law to include clauses
In a statement to the media, Principal Pastor Brian Mulheran said the college "does not judge students on their sexuality or gender identity and we would not make a decision about their enrolment in the college simply on that basis".

He said the college wants to give parents and students the right to make an "informed choice" about supporting the school's approach to Christian education.

"We have always held these Christian beliefs and we have tried to be fair and transparent to everyone in our community by making them clear in the enrolment contract," he said.

"The college, through the freedoms afforded to it by law, has outlined our common beliefs and practices, so that parents can choose for their children to be educated at Citipointe and join our faith-based community."

Mr Mulheran said the school had sought legal advice in amending the contract, and argued it had "certain freedoms under international law and under Commonwealth and state legislation" which allowed it to include the new clauses.

Independent Schools Queensland chief executive Christopher Mountford told ABC Radio Brisbane independent schools were "their own entities" and could "deliver their own enrolment contract".

"The schools are being transparent and up-front in their enrolment contracts around the issues and beliefs that they have as a school, and that's consistent with other independent schools as well, and those contracts are legal under the current legislation," he said.

"The question of whether or not the school should or could do these things, is best answered by thinking through 'what are the school's ethos and processes they're putting forward to the community?' Is it reasonable and legal, what they're putting forward, and then can parents choose to engage in that school or not?"

He said it was important to have diversity across schools to allow parents to send their child to a school that "aligns with their beliefs and values".


Queensland scientists discover previously unknown genes linked to depression

Queensland researchers have discovered 23 more genes linked to a person's risk of developing major depression, in a breakthrough they hope will further reduce any stigma associated with the condition.

The findings take the number of known genetic variants associated with depression to more than 100, with the scientists also hopeful that understanding more about the biological basis of the psychiatric condition may pave the way for better treatments and early intervention.

Scientists analysed the DNA of more than 13,000 people who participated in the Australian Genetics of Depression Study, comparing their genes with a similar number of volunteers who had no history of psychiatric illness.

Researchers found evidence that genes implicated in brain development also played a role in major depression, with their findings published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

'Depression is not something to feel ashamed or guilty about'
The study's lead researcher Brittany Mitchell, from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, said people with the highest number of known genetic markers linked to the common mental health condition were 6.5 times more likely to have experienced major depression than those in the lowest 10 per cent of biological risk.

She said they were also more likely to have developed depression at a younger age and to have had multiple depressive episodes in their lifetime.

"Mental health disorders are still really highly stigmatised and that needs to change," Dr Mitchell said.

"We really hope that this research sheds light on the fact that depression has biological causes and it's not something to feel ashamed or guilty about — it's just like heart disease or cancer."

Dr Mitchell, who conducted the research as part of her PhD, said the study suggested unique genetic risk profiles were associated with different types of depression, such as seasonal affective disorder, but more research was needed to pinpoint the key genes involved.

No 'one-size-fits-all answer' to depression

University of Queensland-based statistical geneticist Enda Byrne, who was also involved in the research, said it showed depression was a complex condition with no "one-size-fits-all answer".

"This research could one day allow for future gene-mapping technology to deliver a more personalised and targeted treatment plan and potentially assist in developing new drug treatments or a repurposing of current drugs for better outcomes," Dr Byrne said.

Dr Mitchell said the next step for the research was to identify more genes involved with major depression and to understand more about the genetic pathways involved in different types of the condition.

But Dr Mitchell said the scientists needed to recruit more people with depression into research studies to increase the power of their findings.

The Australian Genetics of Depression Study is the local arm of an international scientific collaboration aiming to identify genetic risk factors associated with depression. It receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Adults with a history of depression interested in participating in further research can visit the Australian Genetics of Depression study website.


Speaking up about abuses actively discouraged in Queensland

A former senior media adviser to the Palaszczuk government has alleged he was forced out of his job after raising concerns about “unethical, immoral and at times potentially illegal behaviour”.

Neil Doorley, who worked for four cabinet ministers between 2015 and 2018, has backed calls for a commission of inquiry into political interference with watchdog bodies, alleging a “dark culture” that discourages public servants from speaking out.

The veteran Nine Network reporter, who later worked for News Corp, sued the state for compensation over his dismissal by the Premier’s office in 2019, believing his penchant for speaking up on alleged bad behaviour cost him his job.

The state government is understood to have settled the case in 2020 and awarded Mr Doorley compensation.

Before being sacked, he challenged, among other things, the use of ministerial resources that he believed at times were “outside the scope of official duties”.

After putting some concerns in writing, Mr Doorley was told his emails were not “helpful”.

He says several ministerial staff decided to leave quietly rather than commit “career suicide” by complaining.

Premier Annastacia Palas­zczuk continues to resist calls for a commission of ­inquiry into integrity after the heads of two Queensland statutory bodies alleged interference in their offices. Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov tendered her resignation last week while former state archivist Mike Summerell revealed he was pushed out of his job by the government last March.

Both have backed calls for an inquiry.

Dr Stepanov, who has made a formal complaint of alleged interference in her office, at the weekend took to her LinkedIn page to encourage people to “continue to be brave” and speak openly.

In a separate development, Crime and Corruption Commission chair Alan MacSporran also quit last week after a bipartisan parliamentary committee gave a scathing assessment of his organisation’s performance.

Ms Palaszczuk said her cabinet would on Monday consider launching an inquiry into the structure and powers of the CCC, but indicated it did not plan to extend the scope more widely.

“Queensland has robust mechanisms and checks on integrity and accountability in this state,” she said.

“We have the CCC, which is a standing royal commission.”

She said a routine five-year review into the Office of the Integrity Commissioner was finished last year and is being examined by a parliamentary committee.

Concerns about interference raised by Dr Stepanov and Mr Summerell are being considered by the CCC and Ms Palaszczuk said she could not comment ­further.

She said despite integrity concerns raised this week, public servants should be comfortable coming forward with complaints.

“We should have a public service that can give fearless, frank advice. I have always had that opinion,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Mr Doorley said he was “buoyed” after Ms Palaszczuk implored public servants with complaints about her government to come forward, as “the dark arts practised behind closed doors continue in ministerial ­offices”. “The concept of acting in the public good at all times as a guiding principle has been seemingly long lost.”

“I’m more than happy to help the Premier “do better” when it comes to her government’s track record with integrity and accountability,” he said.

“I’ve no doubt my offer will be quickly dismissed – unlike the growing push for her to make this government responsible for its actions and the consequences of those actions – a fundamental part of healthy moral practices and making sure there’s a clear line between what’s right and wrong.”

Mr Doorley - who worked for Ministers Steven Miles, Mick de Brenni, Leeanne Enoch and Craig Crawford - said he was weighed down by the guilt of failing to make a formal complaint.

“I just had no confidence it would go anywhere,” he said.

His concerns echoed those raised by Mr Summerall last week who alleged he was pushed out of his job because of his stance on integrity and independence.

“For many senior public servants in Queensland the concept of an impartial, apolitical and professional public service is career suicide,” Mr Summerall said.

Dr Stepanov, who will continue in her role until July, made complaints to the CCC last year after officers from the Public Service Commission went to her office and seized a laptop without her knowledge.

She had earlier made requests to the PSC and the Department of Premier and Cabinet for a forensic examination of the laptop, which she suspected had highly sensitive material transferred onto it during the 2020 state election.

In her social media post, Dr Stepanov said integrity in the public sector was achieved through” robust public discourse”.

“Part of the obligation and responsibility that comes with independent roles like mine is the need to be frank and fearless, at all times,” she wrote.

“The public expects no less; nor should they.”

Dr Stepanov said media reporting on integrity issues had created a public ‘space’, for issues and strengths in governance and public administration to be raised and more discussed openly.

“We change by learning about how we can do things better, in the public interest. When we don’t square up and face things head on, we miss our chance to bring about meaningful change.”

“Let’s continue to be brave and to have those conversations.”


Why good news on Covid goes unreported by journalists of the left

Twitter is a good window into the private views of journalists. Many have used it to slam the Morrison government for every pandemic failing – real or imagined – while defending every action by Labor premiers, even the indefensible.

It is little wonder Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce was hammered for telling the ABC’s new RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas on her first day in the job on January 24 that no one was dying with Omicron.

Karvelas, rightly, pulled him up and he corrected his error. The Twitter pile-on exploded.

Yet Joyce had a point, even if some enmeshed in Covid catastrophism may struggle to see it.

Separating domestic pandemic numbers out to before and after Omicron reveals some interesting facts about the variant and its predecessors here.

On December 1, there had been a reported 211,654 cases and 2011 deaths since early 2020.

By Australia Day last week, case numbers had blown out to 2.29 million and deaths stood at 3230. So, an extra two million cases and 1200 more deaths, all compressed into less than two months.

As doctors have noted, it is likely many more people during the Omicron wave have been infected than the reported total. Most will have been people who remained asymptomatic.

Yet even using the official federal department of heath total, the fatality rate stands at 0.14 per cent across the pandemic. Over the past two months that rate is about 0.06 per cent.

The US Centers for Disease Control says flu deaths over 20 years to 2019 averaged 1.8 per 100,000. In a bad season, flu can kill more than 1000 people in Australia, which was about the annual Covid fatality total pre-Omicron.

The danger for the media in over-hyping Omicron risks? So many people have now had Omicron that Australians are waking up: this is not the catastrophe many journalists are pretending. Many of us have seen family members and friends test positive only to be fit and well again a day or two later. It might not be the vibe in newsrooms, but at the dining tables in country NSW where I spent the silly season, it is what people are saying.

While the sheer numbers of cases have produced high absolute numbers of hospitalisations and deaths compared with previous waves of the virus, there has been far too little media focus on the good news: that for healthy vaccinated people, especially those who have had a third booster shot, Omicron is not much of a threat.

How then to judge the extreme hostility to Morrison of “lockdown luvvie” journalists who insist he is personally responsible for a “let it rip” strategy that is destroying the nation’s health system and needlessly killing Australians? Sure, as this column remarked last week, the federal government has made mistakes and been slow to learn some lessons, especially in aged care.

But opening up after reaching double dose vaccination targets of 80 per cent was part of a national plan that state and territory governments agreed to with the federal government. The Labor states of Queensland and Victoria have stuck with the plan and opened at a similar pace to the Coalition states of NSW and South Australia.

Many journalists who had tweeted support for every Covid restriction, however ill-advised, by the Andrews and Palaszczuk governments during 2020 and 2021, have avoided highlighting the high infection numbers, hospitalisations and deaths in Victoria and Queensland since the states’ reopening. Only Morrison is blamed.

Yet while turning a blind eye to infection rises in the two Labor states that have opened, they continue to heap praise on WA Labor leader Mark McGowan for keeping his state shut to protect his citizens.

This is blatant politicisation of the pandemic by journalists of the left. It is no different from the politicisation of Covid by some medical professionals who just bat for team Labor. Every journalist and every doctor had known for months the national agreement was to open up and learn to live with Covid.

The truth is, despite obvious mistakes, Australia has done better than most of the world. We have moved up the Worldometer global table since Omicron and last Friday sat at 29 because case numbers have risen tenfold. But the nations near us on the table in total infection numbers all have much higher death totals than the 3000-odd recorded in Australia.

Switzerland, Japan, Portugal and Israel have similar total cases to Australia, but deaths at 12,751, 18,559, 19,703 and 8513 respectively. On the key deaths per million indicator, we sat at 128, Switzerland at 1457, Japan at 147, Portugal at 1941 and Israel at 913.

Yet on Ten’s The Project and on much of the ABC, Australia’s pandemic performance is reported as a disaster. High-profile journalists continue to advocate for harsher restrictions.

No one knows how the pandemic will pan out, but as this column suggested before Christmas, we may end up thinking Omicron was a blessing that, together with third vaccine doses, improved national immunity. Remaining closed forever will not prevent the disease eventually hitting, as Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent Taiwan, now seem to be finding out.

Nick Coatsworth, infectious diseases specialist and former federal deputy chief medical officer, made the sensible point on Twitter on January 21: “Delay WA opening until 80 per cent boosted, which will occur some time around May, to coincide with the winter flu season, which may well be worse this season due to lack of, you guessed it, immunity from recent infection. Courageous indeed.”

Journalists have known for at least 18 months that most people recover from Covid and those who don’t are overwhelmingly the elderly and those with severe comorbidities. Such deaths are a tragedy but the fact remains the average age of all Covid deaths here before Omicron was slightly higher than average life expectancy of 82.9 years.

Australia reports an average of 160,000 deaths a year, or about 440 a day. The main killers remain heart disease, stroke and cancer. So since the first Covid case here, about 320,000 Australians have died over two years but only about 3200 with (rather than necessarily from) Covid.

The media focus on Covid does not help the lives of the vast majority of Australians for whom better diets, more exercise and less alcohol and tobacco would be the most beneficial changes they could make. And getting a third dose of a Covid vaccine.

Back to Twitter for a sensible last word. Professor Greg Dore, of the Kirby Institute, wrote on January 25: “Lazy optimism — ‘hopium’ – is problematic. Lazy pessimism – constant worst-case scenarios, selective bad outcome posting and riding uncertainty for all it’s worth – also a huge problem, particularly given the community fear and anxiety it generates. Optimistic realism’s the go.”


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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