A fashion design student has been turned away from a function organised by his former school for being “inappropriately” dressed.
Angus McCormack, openly gay, was a former captain at Girton Grammar, a private Christian school in Bendigo.
He was attending the event as a guest of his father, Chris McCormack, who was a member of Girton Grammar’s board for six years but has now resigned in protest at his son’s treatment.
Headmaster Matthew Maruff defended the decision, claiming it was an issue of dress code, not of sexual discrimination.
“Irrespective of any personal judgement regarding Angus’ attire on the night, which is in itself subjective, he was not wearing what was requested by the school as appropriate attire for a guest of a board member for our Foundation Day church service,” Mr Maruff said.
“These are our standards and I am not going to apologise for that. It’s not about self expression — he got it wrong on the night.”
Mr Maruff told the Herald Sun suggestions McCormack was discriminated against because of his sexuality was “rubbish”.
Angus McCormack said he had “toned down” his appearance to be respectful to the school’s wishes and was hurt by the rejection.
“I decided to wear minimal make-up, a single small earring, neat black leather pants, a white shirt with a black bow tie and black designer jacket,” he told ABC online.
“A suit by any definition of the word, although not in the typical commercial fabrics.
“Upon my arrival at the (Sacred Heart) Cathedral, after greeting a lot of excited staff and students on my way in, I was approached by the deputy head at the aisle and without even greeting me she told me I was ‘inappropriately dressed’ and commanded that I ‘leave the event’.”
He said he was usually “quite strong” but found the rejection upsetting.
“To be honest, I was pretty crushed,” he said. “It’s really been affecting me, my confidence is shaken, I’m doubting myself a little bit in what I usually wear, who I usually am.”
Mr Maruff said that as a guest of a board member, the ex-student would have sat at the front of the church with other dignitaries, and prior to the service “was respectfully asked via email to his father, ‘to be dressed in a suit as is expected of teaching staff and members of the board’.”
Chris McCormack wants an apology from the school.
“I think that it is a poor reflection on what the school espouses as its values, which in this case appear to be nothing more than platitudes,” he said.
“We’ve asked the question: What exactly was inappropriate about Angus’s attire on that night?
“That has not been made available to us (and) we’re still perplexed as to exactly which part of his attire, which part of his choice of clothing, was unacceptable on that evening.”