The Australian reports that Plibersek made the comments at a forum hosted by Catholic Schools NSW last night, but that she did not provide details of exactly how schools’ rights will be protected.
Following the leaking of the Ruddock review into religious freedom last year, Labor promised to remove a religious exemption in the Sex Discrimination Act if elected.
As it stands, the exemption allows religious schools to discriminate against students or teachers on the basis of sexuality, gender identity or relationship status.
At last night’s forum, Plibersek said that it was clear schools “don’t want to discriminate against kids and they don’t want to discriminate against teachers”.
“The way it was put to me was: what we want is employees who can live by or demonstrate the values of our school,” she said.
“And I think that it is possible to find that balance where we don’t discriminate against people because of who they love or how they identify but that those people who are employees of an organisation have to faithfully represent the values of that organisation.”
There has already been at least one high profile case of a teacher being fired due to his sexuality.
Perth teacher Craig Campbell was sacked in 2017, after telling his school he was in a same sex relationship.
Campbell’s school told him that there was an “inconsistency with his beliefs on sexuality and the college’s beliefs”.
A poll conducted last year found that 79 per cent of respondents opposed the right of schools to fire gay teachers and 82 per cent opposed the right of schools to expel gay students.