Pompallier College teacher dismissed for gay marriage stance

In Whangarei, New Zealand,  a teacher at Pompallier College, Nigel Studdart, has been dismissed. He had been suspended on full pay in August after he had supported a protest by students against the principal, Richard Stanton, who had expressed opposition to gay marriage and expressed concerns about gay parenting in the school newsletter.

The Board of Trustees issued a statement to the college community which said: “The Pompallier Catholic College Board of Trustees advises the school community that Nigel Studdart will not be returning to the College as a teacher. We wish him well for the future.”

The chief executive of the New Zealand Catholic Education Board, Pat Lynch, said he would not make comment about this particular case.

“More broadly, Catholic preaching on same sex marriage is part of the church’s moral preaching so if you take up employment in a Catholic School you’re obliged to support the religious and moral preachings because that’s what the school stands for, whether you believe in it or not.”

Sometimes employees had to agree to disagree if they wanted to keep their job, he said.

The teachers’ union, the PPTA, also said it was not its policy to comment on individual cases.

“It’s complicated when teachers take up jobs at schools with special character because it does involve a certain amount of commitment to the principles of that special character – provided they do not breach human rights or provisions under the employment relations act – and there can be tension in the way that operates,” PPTA president Robin Duff said.

Blair Scotland, a senior associate of law firm Chen Palmer specialising in employment matters, said an employer would have trouble justifying drastic action like dismissing someone when it was about a fundamental human right.

“How the employer justifies its actions is going to be key. It’s going to be very difficult for an employer to say ‘this employee’s belief … I don’t agree with and therefore I’m going to impose my views and I’m going to sack this person because of the particular views’,” he said.



News category: New Zealand.

  • Patricia

    The issue here is clearly one of teacher conduct and part of that is the expression of personal political beliefs within a specific work role as a teacher at a Catholic school. The school has exemption under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act to insist that its staff respect the special character and faith of what it represents. Too many people comment that the issue of same sex marriage is solely a human rights one. It is definitely not solely about "human rights". As a Catholic mother of four children, who came into the Church six years ago, I fully agree with the actions of the school principal. The teacher concerned should be aware of his position of power over students, and not abuse that right within this Catholic teaching setting.

  • Lynne Newington

    I thought there would have had to have been some written agreement that any teacher working within the Catholic system adhere to Catholic principles, notwithstanding we had one in Australia who did, and was forced to resign with terrible repurcussion for his family.
    The Age The price of battling paedophilia 17th September. 2012

  • aabroadnz

    I suggest that we all send messages of support to the principal, Richard Stanton.

    (Email address removed.)

  • Joseph

    I don't know that he needs our support I'm sure he's getting that from a higher authority. I suggest we need to pray for the teacher Nigel Studdart.

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