Principals at Sydney’s Anglican schools will no longer be required to sign a document affirming their belief in marriage being between a man and a woman. The Anglican Diocese of Sydney has proposed a draft policy statement, which replaces the marriage clause with a requirement for school heads to demonstrate their Christian faith and character, active involvement in a Bible-based church, and a commitment to organizational faithfulness. This change comes after the controversial clause caused anger and backlash from school leaders and parents. The issue is part of a larger governance overhaul of all Sydney Anglican diocese-run organizations, including more than 30 schools.
The Anglican Diocese of Sydney oversees prestigious schools such as Shore, Trinity Grammar, St. Catherine’s, and King’s. The removal of the marriage clause, added to a statement of faith in 2019, aims to address concerns about how the church imposes rules on schools, particularly in relation to recruitment and volunteer roles. The clause stated that faith requires obedience in accordance with God’s word, specifically emphasizing sexual faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman. New heads and board members were required to sign this statement as a condition of employment, leading to pushback from parents and communities.
The Sydney diocese, known for its conservative stance, is now reviewing its governance policy. The proposal suggests that school leaders should be of Christian faith and character, aligned with the teachings and beliefs of the diocese. However, the focus will be on organizational faithfulness rather than specific beliefs about marriage. The review coincides with the federal government considering the removal of anti-discrimination exemptions for religious schools. The Sydney diocese has been a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage and has previously attempted to have the national church affirm the traditional definition of marriage.
Under the new policy, Anglican schools and organizations will be categorized into tiers based on the level of requirements set by the church. Schools that have independent boards dominated by the diocese will fall under Tier 3, while others without such representation will be categorized as Tier 2. The Anglican Schools Corporation, which manages schools like Roseville College and Danebank, will be categorized as Tier 4. The policy emphasizes adherence to the doctrines and beliefs of the diocese, with specific requirements for Tier 3 and 4 schools.
Overall, this proposed policy seeks to address concerns and improve relationships between Anglican schools, their leaders, and the communities they serve.