The Australian‘s latest salvo in its war against LGBTI kids (a war that seems a bit one-sided, to be honest) is an attack on a privately run business organisation’s decision to offer one of its numerous scholarships to an LGBTI student. Today the Oz argues that LGBTI people are better off (in the long run) and therefore do not need scholarships based solely around their sexuality.

The Australian Business and Community Network’s scholarship program offers multiple scholarships of $7,000 over year 10, 11, and 12 to students facing economic, family, or social challenges impacting their study. For the first time this year, one of those scholarships is set aside for an LGBTI student. It’s just one factor, and they have to write an essay, with the overall decision being made on the substance of the application and, yes, merit. Shock, horror. Says the Oz‘s editorial:

“By funding scholarships for needy and worthy teenagers they are engaging in good corporate citizenship. But allocating LGBTI places seems to be overreach. It smacks of identity politics and is bound to be gamed at some stage if ambivalence about sexuality may add certainty to an application. All applicants should be equal and be judged on merit alone.”

Good to see the national broadsheet pushing for scholarships being granted on merit alone. But what happened when Frances Abbott received a $60,000 scholarship from a design institute linked to a friend of her prime minister father’s? Said David Crowe in those hallowed pages:

“And it is difficult to argue that Frances’s scholarship was not based on merit; she graduated with distinction and hopes to study for her masters later this year.”

But it did not actually seem difficult for Frances Abbott’s design teacher Melletios Kyriakidis to say exactly that. “Even from her class I could name 10 people more deserving either for merit or financial need or both,” he told the SMH

A private institution is free to award scholarships based on any criteria it wants — race, religion, economic status, sexuality. Or even having the last name Abbott.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey