An advocacy group has slammed a Sydney’s school decision to prevent a female student from taking another girl to her formal as “the tip of the iceberg”.
Year 12 student Abbie Frankland was told by her all-girls Catholic school, St Ursula’s College in Kingsgrove, that she could not bring a female date to her formal.
Following the ban, Abbie launched an online petition that has received an “outpouring of support”.
Equality Australia chief executive Anna Brown said the school’s decision was only “the tip of the iceberg” for discrimination faced by queer children and staff in religious schools.
“We know of children who have been expelled, denied leadership positions, told they are going to hell, forced into ‘counselling’ or advised to live celibate lives,” Ms Brown said.
“This is obviously confronting to many people and out of step with the views of the vast majority of people of faith.
“The outpouring of support for Abbie, including from many Christians, has been overwhelming and welcome beyond words.”
The petition, posted to Change.org on Tuesday, had amassed nearly 5000 signatures before it was closed.
“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,” Abbie wrote.
“We’ve purchased non-refundable tickets and outfits in anticipation of this event.
“However, we’ve recently discovered that the school does not allow same-sex couples to attend the formal together.”
The student called on the school to “align itself” with its public sentiment of inclusivity and acceptance.
“By signing this petition, you’re standing up against discrimination and supporting equal rights for all students at St. Ursula’s School,” she said.
On Thursday, NSW Premier Chris Minns threw his support behind the student.
“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,” he said.
Mr Minns’ sister Sarah was among the those who signed Abbie’s petition.
“Excluding people based on sexual orientation does not model Christ-like love or acceptance,” she noted on the petition.
A Sydney Catholic Schools spokesperson declined to comment on the matter which they said was being addressed at a “school level”.
“Our priority is seeing our students through to the end of the HSC and 13 years of school with as little disruption as possible.”