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Tim Dower: Bethlehem College can't have it both ways

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 9:34am
The Bethlehem College campus. Photo / George Novak
The Bethlehem College campus. Photo / George Novak

Tim Dower: Bethlehem College can't have it both ways

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 9:34am

So who's in the right at Bethlehem College?

One the one hand, the school's Statement of Beliefs is pretty up-front about matters of sexuality.

Example: biological pronouns will be used for students, him and her, a student's name is expected to align with their biological sex.

In other words, the school does not acknowledge such a thing as a transgender person.

And to be absolutely clear, it goes on to talk about toilets, wearing a male or female uniform, and male and female sports teams.

So, at the outset, it's clear what's expected of you when you enroll.

Now, independent schools are to a certain extent, able to hold their own views and make their own rules.

People sign their kids up to that kind of an education because they want a particular kind of schooling and providing it's not actively teaching anything illegal, that's OK, isn't it?

As a private school, Bethlehem College could make pretty much whatever rules it wanted.

But the thing is, it's not private any longer.

Since 1999 it's been a State Integrated School, aka, a Special Character School, meaning it gets state funding for teachers.

The Education Ministry, that is, the taxpayer, provides those dollars.

So, when the College became an integrated school, it included a Statement of Beliefs with the caveat that changes had to be signed off by the Ministry.

Problem is, the stance on same-sex marriage, trans students and the like was added in, without the Ministry's knowledge.

So in essence, the school's tried to pull a fast one, and it's been called out.

He who pays the piper calls the tune and we know what tune the Education Ministry wants.