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### A Tale of Two Brothers: Bradley’s Blissful School Days vs. James’ School Hell

Twins Bradley and James Elliot-Watson: A Contrasting High School Experience

Twins Bradley and James Elliot-Watson were standout students during their high school years – excelling academically, actively participating in extracurricular activities, and enjoying popularity among their peers. However, their individual experiences diverged significantly due to James’ sexual orientation.

While Bradley fondly reminisces about his time at their religious private school as some of the best years of his life, James, who is gay, harbors a vastly different sentiment.

James, on track to become a prefect in year 10, faced an abrupt shift in his prospects after confiding in a staff member about his struggle with his sexuality during lunchtime. The school’s response was swift, summoning him to the front office, where his aspirations were dashed.

“They essentially conveyed that while it was commendable for James to address his sexuality proactively, they would not permit him to hold the position of prefect,” Bradley recounted. The ensuing conversation delved into ominous topics such as AIDS, the perceived repercussions of embracing a gay lifestyle, and the divergence from religious doctrines. Furthermore, James was explicitly warned against openly discussing his sexuality, under the threat of severe disciplinary actions, including expulsion, for contravening the Christian values pact signed in year 7. Overwhelmed with fear, James made his way home on the bus, consumed by trepidation throughout the journey.

The push for legislative amendments to safeguard students like James from discrimination in religious schools has gained momentum, with calls to revoke the authority of these institutions to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s commitment to shield gay, lesbian, and transgender students from expulsion or punitive measures at educational institutions was a focal point of his election campaign. However, recent hesitance and reluctance to incite discord or embark on a divisive path have cast uncertainty on the reform’s trajectory.

While some faith-based schools assert their non-discriminatory stance towards LGBTQ students, citing the preservation of religious ethos in staff recruitment, advocacy groups emphasize the urgency of eliminating the exemption that perpetuates discrimination.

James Elliot-Watson’s enduring resentment towards the discrimination he faced in high school serves as a poignant reminder of the detrimental impact such biases can have on an individual’s well-being and academic performance.

As the discourse on legislative reforms unfolds, the narratives of LGBTQ individuals subjected to discriminatory practices in religious educational settings underscore the imperative for immediate and tangible changes to ensure inclusivity and protection for all.

Image Source: Steven Siewert

Image Description: Bradley Elliot-Watson (left) reflects on his twin brother James’ struggles after coming out as gay in high school.

The article’s original author, James Elliot-Watson (left) says his experience of discrimination in high school still infuriates him., is the federal health reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, stationed at Parliament House in Canberra. Connect via ppp[2].

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