Major world religions have been instrumental in the oppression of women throughout history with ideologies enforced through physical force such as witch burning or female circumcision. Exclusion of women from leadership also continues to be the norm in many of these religions.
Scripture materials currently being used in public schools promote stereotypical gender roles and support inequality and discriminatory attitudes. For example, some of the materials produced by the Sydney Anglicans and used in protestant scripture classes continue to teach that girls must stay sexually pure, that homosexuality, divorce and abortion are wrong, that menstruation is a reminder of the curse of sin, that the role of men is to be providers and the role of women is to nurture, and that women should talk less and submit to their husband’s leadership.
While the religions and individual scripture teachers vary in terms of the extent to which they are teaching damaging sexist and prejudiced ideas in schools, school authorities do not monitor or have input into the content of the materials being delivered during scripture time. Most parents are unaware of the exact content of the materials being taught and are oblivious to the frequently sexist and otherwise discriminatory nature of the content of scripture classes.
Often unbeknownst to parents, ideas such as these are also propagated during regular religious meetings during lunchtimes and on other occasions depending on the school and the Principal’s proclivities. This activity is in breach of the Department of Education’s own policies but continues to be countenanced by many school principals who are under pressure from local religious groups.
Public Schools should provide secular education free from religious indoctrination. Legislative change is required to remove scripture time from public schools and the Department of Education also needs to enforce its existing policies in relation to banning proselytizing during school hours. Provision for school chaplaincy services should also be reversed.
For more information see http://religionsinschool.com/.