Teacher suspended after supporting student protest

By Mike Dinsdale


A teacher at Whangarei's Pompallier Catholic College claims he has been suspended for supporting a student protest against the principal's stance on gay marriage.<inline type="poll" id="5860" align="outside"/>

Science teacher Nigel Studdart said he was suspended from the college on arrival yesterday morning - the same day some students planned a silent protest against principal Richard Stanton's comments opposing The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill in the school newsletter.

A Facebook page, "Support Gay Rights at Pom" was set up where many pupils expressed outrage at their principal's comments and some planned a protest at the school yesterday, by wearing rainbow ribbons or armbands to show their support for gay marriage.

Mr Studdart said he was told he was being suspended for supporting the protest.

"It was said I breached the school uniform policy by encouraging students to wear a rainbow wristband to support the rights of the gay community," he said.

He said the Facebook page was taken down "so I set it back up again, mainly to moderate the comments that were being made. I was told to leave instantly."

Mr Studdart said he objected to Mr Stanton's assumption "that gay parents were lesser parents" because they were gay.

The suspension, which was for an undetermined period of time, was an attack on free speech and he intended to take his suspension up with his union and the Ministry of Education.

Mr Stanton could not be reached for comment on Mr Studdart's suspension at edition time.


Catholic Bishops have voiced their disappointment that a bill to legalise same-sex marriage passed its first reading in Parliament last night.

Parliament voted 80 votes to 40 in favour of Labour MP Louisa Wall's bill, sending it to select committee.

In a statement after the vote last night, NZ Catholic Bishops reaffirmed their opposition to the bill.

``The Catholic Church affirms love, fidelity and commitment in all relationships, but believes that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman,'' the President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop John Dew said.

``To propose any alternative definition will have implications in law, and in society, but also for education and the family structure which throughout history has been seen as the fundamental unit in every society.''

The bishops said legal avenues already exist for same sex couples to publicly declare their love and commitment to each other.

``Society doesn't have the right to deprive a child of both its father and mother, both equally significant in their upbringing. We're concerned about children growing up without one or both parents as part of the primary parenting partnership. We also understand that as humans we have a real need to get to know both of our biological parents,'' Archbishop Dew said.

``While there are families which include single parents and same sex couples raising children there is a question to be asked about whether we want to legislate for a new norm for the family unit.''

- Northern Advocate

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