The principal of Scots College in Sydney has mobilised the Old Boys’ network in protest at the Sydney Morning Herald’s reporting of the school’s position on accepting and teaching the children of gay couples.

Yesterday, SMH education reporter Eryk Bagshaw wrote about a September 2015 meeting of the NSW general assembly of the Presbyterian Church at which the school asked the church for guidance about how to deal with such issues. The motion tabled in response, in minutes of the meeting, restates the church’s position that “homosexual sex is contrary to God’s law, and so is a sin”, and makes multiple references to the “homosexual agenda” — a term used to refer to the normalising of gay relationships in society.

But the school itself says there’s no story, and that it’s being lumped in with views and people it has nothing to do with. Principle Ian Lambert wrote to graduates yesterday saying the piece was only the latest in a “pattern of persecution by Fairfax media”.

Lambert says Bagshaw contacted the school over a month ago (it’s released his questions and their responses) asking what it would do if the child of gay parents asked to enrol (the school wouldn’t have an issue with it). Lambert objected to Bagshaw’s placement of the school’s request for clarity from the Presbyterian Church in a broader backlash against gay families taking place in America and here, and with the banning of the film Gayby Baby last year. Lambert wrote:

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“It is simply unprofessional that Mr Bagshaw did not even bother to ask me a question regarding the Safe School program, yet he managed to make time to get a comment from an unnamed spokeswoman even though almost a month has elapsed.

“It would seem that The Sydney Morning Herald is seeking evermore hyperbolic headlines in an effort to attract visitors to their website. Our College, because of our excellent reputation, is an easy target.”

A response from SMH managing editor Stuart Washington to Lambert’s complaint says the paper has agreed to publish a clarification noting the use of the term “homosexual agenda” wasn’t used by the school, but by the Presbyterian Church assembly:

“Apart from this clarification — necessitated mainly by the headline — the Herald believes the article is a reasonable account of the Presbyterian Church’s position on this matter, the political context in which this position has been taken, and appropriately sought Dr Lambert’s response to this matter of significant public interest.”

The college is seeking a meeting with SMH editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir over the coverage and is lodging a complaint with the Press Council. It will also in the “near future” be holding “a forum for parents and Old Boys who work in, or are connected to, the media industry”. Handy connections if you have them.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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