Young Western Australian of the Year calls for public apology from Mandurah principal

Young Western Australian of the Year Rhys Williams. Photo: Richard Polden.
Young Western Australian of the Year Rhys Williams. Photo: Richard Polden.

YOUNG Western Australian of the Year and Mandurah identity Rhys Williams has called for a public apology from Foundation Christian College principal Andrew Newhouse.

Mr Newhouse made headlines this week when he said his school was “unable to support” the “world view” of a gay parent with a child at the college.

The year one student was told she would not be allowed to speak about her father’s relationship with another man at school, which prompted her parents to withdraw her from the Greenfields college.

In a statement provided to media on Thursday afternoon, Mr Newhouse upheld his belief that a “same-sex world view is not congruent with our Christian world view”.

“The board has a clearly enunciated Christian world view which all parents are made aware of before enrolment is confirmed,” he said.

“We are completely upfront about the college vision and values from the time families express interest in having their child attend the college.

“While we respect the rights of others to hold different world views, the college has an obligation to parents to maintain the Chistian world view in all aspects of the college.”

But Mr Williams, whose work largely involves local youth, said this was not good enough.

“As a community we must ask ourselves are we prepared to tolerate this kind of approach in our community,” he said.

“We’ve got to be prepared to have each other’s backs and stand together against the things that work to divide us.”

Mr Williams said strong communities were built on the foundations of equality and acceptance and the community must “collectively fight discrimination, to be empathetic and to be open-minded to each other’s differences”.

READ MR WILLIAMS' FULL STATEMENT

Strong communities are built on the foundations of equality and acceptance. We must strive, always, to collectively fight discrimination, to be empathetic and to be open-minded to each other’s differences. This is especially relevant for us here in Mandurah, because as a community we do experience greater levels of diversity than most; a point that we should celebrate and be proud of.

Like most Mandurah people, I was disgusted to read of Foundation Christian College’s policy not to allow children of homosexual parents to attend their school. This isn’t a debate about school policies or religious freedoms, but one of human decency; we would not accept this kind of discrimination based on skin colour or gender in this day and age, and we should absolutely not accept it based on sexuality either. 

In the fast paced and often confusing world that we find ourselves in, it would appear that there is some truth in the idea that it does in fact take a village to raise a child.  Never has it been more important that we make a commitment to building a confident, capable and self-aware generation of young people, and yet every day I meet young people who struggle in finding the confidence to be comfortable with being themselves, instead hiding behind masks of materialism, negative attitudes or harmful choices. When we allow policies in our schools and in our communities that encourage young people to question their identity and that of their families, we exasperate these issues, and detract from so much of the great work been done by so many in the mission to build a stronger community. 

As a community, we must ask ourselves, are we prepared to tolerate this kind of approach in our community, and we’ve got to be prepared to have each others backs, and stand together against the things that work to divide us.

I call on the Principal of Foundation Christian College to publicly apologise to the community and to this family for their approach, and to reverse its policy in relation to this matter.

- Rhys Williams - Young Western Australian of the Year.

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