A lesbian teacher named Karen Pack says she was sacked by a Sydney religious school after a furious member of the public pressured them to denounce her “demonic actions”.
The committed Christian, ordained minister and teacher of 25 years trained chaplains at Morling College bible school in Sydney, Australia, for two years, and was open about her sexuality from the start.
“In February 2018, I signed a contract to become an adjunct lecturer, both times just checking that I could sign up with integrity,” she told ABC 7.30. “I was open with people and staff. I didn’t hide my sexuality.”
Karen Pack reiterated this in 2019 when she was asked to sign a “code of conduct” created following the same-sex marriage vote in Australia.
“I responded by saying, ‘Look, I’m very happy to affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman, that that is a sacred and a beautiful thing,'” she said.
“I have no problem affirming that. What you need to understand is that’s not the limit of what I affirm. That’s not the only thing that recognises and reflects the beauty and the sacredness of God.
“And they accepted that, and were happy to have me sign the contract and continue on staff.”
That all changed in early 2020 when the school received a letter from a member of the public, saying that “Ms Pack is a ‘lesbian’ who needs to be denounced immediately”.
The unnamed person urged the Baptist denomination to “distance itself from her demonic actions” because they felt “disgusted” by her sexuality.
Karen Pack believes this prompted them to sack her – a claim the Sydney school disputes.
Morling College denies firing her, saying she was the one who decided to leave because she could “no longer adhere to a key Morling value” about the “nature of marriage”. They claim that “after discussion and prayer” she chose to leave their employment.
She tells a very different story, however. A letter seen by ABC 7.30, allegedly written by the school to students, states that “the decision for Karen to end her lecturing role was made by the Principal [supported by] the Morling College Board”.
“It was based on the position on same-sex marriage held by the College stated in our community code,” the letter explains.
Pack was devastated by the decision. “[She] loved that job and that work and that she flourished in that because that’s what she’s great at,” said her wife, Bronte Scott. “And for that to be taken away… it was really hard to watch.”
She’s now sharing her story after watching two of her friends, also teachers, be fired from religious schools this year. One is struggling with their mental health as a result.
“I haven’t pursued legal action and I have no intention of doing that. I’m doing this because right now, one of my friends is in a mental health unit,” she said.
Unfortunately, Morling College would be supported by law.
Australia’s Sex Discrimination Act allows religious schools and other faith institutions to legally discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
“Sadly, laws across Australia currently allow LGBT+ teachers, students and staff to be fired or expelled from faith-based schools and educational institutions simply because of who they are or whom they love. This discrimination remains legal in every state and territory apart from the ACT and Tasmania,” said Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown.
“The students at Morling College have lost a faithful and committed teacher, who was great at her job.
“Until parliaments across Australia amend laws to remove special privileges for faith-based institutions, schools and colleges like Morling will continue to be allowed to discriminate against LGBT+ teachers, students and staff with impunity.”