The mother of a St Ursula’s College student has spoken about how her daughter reacted to news she could not bring a female to the year 12 formal.
The all-girls Catholic school in Sydney’s Kingsgrove has told parents that students are only permitted to bring a date to the end-of-year event if they are from the opposite sex.
A petition about the decision has already gathered several thousand signatures, while New South Wales Premier Chris Minns has called for the decision to be overturned.
Speaking to 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Thursday afternoon, a mother of a student affected by the decision said her daughter was “distraught” and “crying in the car” when she heard the news earlier this week.
“I got a call in the car, and my daughter happened to be in the car, on Tuesday,” the mother said.
“At first I thought… maybe there wasn’t enough room at the venue, or it was all partners. I didn’t realise until they actually spelt it out; ‘your daughter’s bringing another female student’.
“I said to them it’s just their friend. ‘It doesn’t matter’, they said, ‘the rules are the rules’. ‘The principal has made the decision in conjunction with Sydney Catholic Schools’.”
The student’s mother – whose name was changed to conceal her identity – said the school’s decision had come in the middle of their HSC exams.
“They’ve hit the kids right at a time when they really should be focused. And it’s just taking them off the path,” she said.
However rather than taking up the offer to organise a meeting with the school, the St Ursula’s mum advised her daughter to take a different approach.
“I sort of got off the phone from the school because my daughter was distraught. And I said you need strength in numbers, not a meeting behind closed doors. I think you need to find out who this affects and make a stance,” she said.
A petition about the school’s decision has already gathered over 4,000 signatures on Change.org.
The petition, posted by Abbie Frankland describes St Ursula’s policy as “discriminatory” and calls for the Catholic school to align itself with the values of the broader community.
“My girlfriend and I, along with many other students at St. Ursula’s in Kingsgrove NSW, Australia, have been eagerly awaiting the school formal for months,” Ms Frankland says in the petition.
“However, we’ve recently discovered that the school does not allow same-sex couples to attend the formal together.
“This policy not only discriminates against LGBTQ+ students but also puts us in a difficult financial situation as we are left with non-refundable tickets and clothes that were bought specifically for this occasion.”
The petition points out that over 60 per cent of Australians voted in favour of same-sex marriage, but that schools like St Ursula’s were continuing to “uphold discriminatory policies” despite the public support for “inclusivity and acceptance”.
“We believe it is time for St. Ursula’s to align itself with these values by allowing all students – regardless of their sexual orientation – to bring their chosen partner to the school formal,” the petition states.”
New South Wales Premier Chris Minns also weighed into the controversy on Thursday, calling for the school to overturn its policy.
“I think in this day and age you should be able to take anyone you like to your Year 12 formal – we are after all talking about teenagers who are close to or over the age of 18,” Premier Minns said.
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