09:05 | 20th April 2019

News: World

Wed 10 Nov, 2010
By Sam Bristowe

Children learn to bully and discriminate through imitation -- what exactly are you hoping to teach them

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Australian School defends same-sex ban at dance

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An Australian high school that banned a student from bringing her girlfriend to her school dance Wednesday insisted the decision was due to the date's age and not the girl's sexuality.

Hannah Williams, 16, said she was told she could not bring her 15-year-old girlfriend to the end-of-year class dance at Melbourne's Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar because "the "ratio will be off for boy/girl".

"(The vice-principal) was saying 'we're a girl's school, you meet girls every day, this is a special event to meet boys," Williams told commercial radio.

Williams said the school also told her that her proposed date, who was in the grade below her, "won't understand the conversations" -- despite the fact at least one other girl was bringing a boy of the same age.

"They just told me not to come if I didn't want to," she said.

"I realised that no matter what I did they weren't going to listen."
Her father, Peter Williams, lodged a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission, but was unable to come to a resolution through mediation with Ivanhoe.

The Williams decided against taking the case further and Hannah, who will leave school next year, has since changed schools.

Ivanhoe principal Heather Schnagl Wednesday defended the school's decision, saying it was a question of age and "not about same-sex discrimination".

"The school is not discriminatory against same sex couples," Schnagl told public broadcaster ABC.

"We are very, very supportive, but the issue here is that it was a Year 11 event and it was inappropriate to enable Year 10s to attend."

Schnagl said Williams was told she could bring a male date, or come alone, or go with another girl from her year.

The story, splashed across the front page of Melbourne newspaper The Age, sparked a flurry of outraged traffic on social networking sites such as Twitter.

"Disgusting! Banning a girl's gay girlfriend from a school dance, what a poor way to teach our children it's OK TO BE GAY," wrote @Marcus_Moments.

"Children learn to bully and discriminate through imitation -- what exactly are you hoping to teach them
#ivanhoegirlsgrammar?" added @shereestrange.

Williams said lots of young people were uncomfortable with their sexuality and it was important for schools to move on from outdated views that it was a "taboo" topic for discussion.

"I'm just attracted to who I'm attracted to and I'm not going to try to change that... I'm just saying right now I'm with a girl and right now I'm going to stand up for what I deserve."

Source: AFP


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