NSW Premier Chris Minns and Federal Education Minister Jason Clare have criticized St Ursula’s College in Kingsgrove, a Sydney Catholic school, for its controversial decision to ban same-sex couples from attending the year 12 formal together. The school’s policy ignited public outcry, with thousands signing a student’s online petition.
Chris Minns, NSW Premier, expressed his stance, stating, “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.” Federal Education Minister Jason Clare joined the chorus, urging the school to reconsider the ban, emphasizing, “It’s 2023; you should be able to take whoever you want to the year 12 farewell.”
Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley concurred, stating, “The school’s got this wrong. They should have another look at it. Young men and women should be able to take who they want to the school formal.” NSW Education Minister Prue Car also added her voice, asserting, “I think you should be able to take who you want to take in 2023.”
Equality Australia, however, warns that the ban at St Ursula’s College is just “the tip of the iceberg.” CEO Anna Brown highlights the broader issue of discrimination faced by queer children and staff at religious schools nationwide. Brown emphasized the need to address legal gaps that currently allow religious schools to discriminate against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The controversy over the ban at St Ursula’s College underscores the ongoing challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ students in some educational settings. To provide an inclusive alternative, LGBTQIA+ groups have started hosting their own Queer Formal events, where all students can celebrate without fear of discrimination.
In response to these incidents, Brisbane Pride is hosting a Queer Formal event in Brisbane City Hall on November 18, providing a safe and welcoming space for school-age students. Similarly, Coffs Coast Queer Prom, scheduled for November 25, aims to create an inclusive environment for youth in Coffs Harbour, highlighting the ongoing need for acceptance and support for LGBTQIA+ students in school settings.