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CaSPA Principals targeted by Conservative Media and Church Groups

Posted by Rob Laidler - CaSPA NSW Liaison on 11 April 2018
CaSPA Principals targeted by Conservative Media and Church Groups

Above: Santa Sabina Principal - Maree Herrett  - hits back at 'cowardly' and 'bullying' tactics in gender identity row

In recent weeks in NSW, conservative media correspondents and parent groups have aggressively questioned the integrity and professionalism of a prominent Sydney independent school Principal regarding her decisions on staffing, uniform and curriculum offerings. The school in question is well known for its commitment to the Churches' teachings particularly in the areas of interfaith dialogue and social justice. It is the view iof many in Sydney that the school has a long history of producing strong young women of faith and character.

It appears a small group of concerned ultra-conservatives within the school community mistakenly believe the introduction of "shorts" and the teaching of the NSW Studies of Religion syllabus threatens the faith, morality and even gender orientation of their daughters! Their views have been echoed in predictable quarters of the conservative press and Sydney "shock jocks".   

As a consequence, the Principal in question has been subjected in recent weeks to a concerted campaign of critical media articles, aggressive parent meetings and legally questionable activities such as the secret taping of student assemblies all with the aim of forcing her to reverse her decisions and to inappropriately influence the future direction of the school.

It is also worth noting that the Principal concerned has in recent weeks received messages of support from many of her Catholic Colleague Principals from across the state.

A number of Sydney Independent school principals particularly those in girls school are not surprised by the comments and actions of the conservative right of the media and church. 

They noted these are common and familiar tactics employed to influence the actions of Principals and the education agendas of their schools. One commented that conversations among Principals from time to time turns to pondering who will be next to be targeted by these groups.  Further they believe much of this recent escalation in activity is the product of the outcome of the recent marriage equality referendum and that the conservatives elements within the church and their supporters in the press are trying to create bastions of ultra-conservative thinking and dogma associated with the teaching of sexuality within catholic girl's schools.

CaSPA is providing support to the Principal currently in the firing line and encourages any other Principal feeling similar pressure to contact CASPA and discuss their concerns.
Author: Rob Laidler - CaSPA NSW Liaison
Tags: Identity Catholic Secondary Principals Australia

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