Parents at St Catherine’s School are joining forces with families from other Anglican schools to fight a requirement for incoming principals to sign a statement that they believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
St Catherine’s principal leaves at the end of the year, and the relatively new rule for diocese-run schools will require her replacement – who is appointed by a council dominated by representatives of the conservative Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney, which rejects gay marriage – to sign the document.
It is one of several high-fee Anglican schools dealing with internal discord. Parents at The King’s School are upset about an expensive trip by the headmaster and his wife to a British rowing regatta, while there is discontent among Shore’s community over the school’s principal.
At Cranbrook, which is Anglican but not diocese-run, there are deep divisions over a plan to become co-educational.
At St Catherine’s, a coalition of parents known as the Love School Group has been lobbying the council to drop the requirement. A survey of more than 80 per cent of St Catherine’s parents found four in five of them were opposed to the statement.
They say the community was not asked about the statement and has no say in the selection of principal, despite paying up to $37,000 a year in fees.
“Although we are a diocesan school, we are not the Sydney Diocese.”
Julie Townsend, outgoing St Catherine’s principal
The parents wrote to Anglican Archbishop Kanishka Raffel on June 9 to formally outline their objections, but have not received a response. Those thinking about taking their daughters out of the school want a speedy resolution.
In a statement given to the Herald, the parents argue the clause is contrary to the law of the land, community values and the school’s inclusion policies. They also say it will damage students “at a critical formative stage of life as they develop into ethical adults”.