An exclusive girls’ school in Sydney has been commended by the way it handled complaints about employing gay teachers. Two families say that the Kambala Anglican girls’ school at Rose Bay exposes their daughters to messages that deviate from good Christian values but the school maintains that it does not discriminate anyone based on one’s ethnicity, sexual orientation and religious affiliation.

Sally Herman, the school’s council president, asserted that all staff, gay or straight, are selected on merit, empathy and commitment in a letter released on Wednesday addressed to all the school’s parents. Herman adds that the Rose Bay institution wants to be perceived by how it cares for its community rather than how it discriminates other people who deviate from what is considered normal.

Herman writes that they practice love even when it is very difficult. The institution is serious when following Christ’s commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Kerryn Phelps, GP, civil rights advocate and former president of the Australian Medical Association, praised the school’s response in an interview with The families’ complaints show that there is something wrong with gay teachers, which is completely untrue.

Complaints like these also send the wrong message to young people who are figuring out their own sexuality. The discrimination also forces teachers to remain hidden in the closet.

“She provides an impressive example of the style of leadership needed by schools and workplaces everywhere … making it clear that attempts to discriminate on the basis of sexuality, ethnicity, gender, faith or political convictions are not a part of their ethos. Well done, Kambala and Sally Herman. Great role modelling for the girls at your school,” points out Phelps.

Phelps expressed her concern that the same-sex marriage plebiscite on February 2017 would be complicated by similar views held by two of Kambala Anglican’s families.