St Ursula’s backflips on same-sex formal ban, couple says

St Ursula's College student Abbie gives update on Sydney school's same-sex formal ban
Images: Supplied

The lesbian couple who were banned from attending a Sydney Catholic school’s Year 12 formal together have declared victory after they say the school backflipped on the discriminatory policy.

Last week, student Abbie Frankland from all-girls school St Ursula’s College in Kingsgrove started a petition calling out the ban.

The petition attracted close to 5000 signatures, as well as national attention. NSW Premier Chris Minns and also federal Education Minister Jason Clare were among numerous leaders to condemn the school’s policy. Jason Clare reminded the Sydney school “it’s 2023” and urged them to use “a little bit of common sense.”

Now, in a positive update on Friday, Abbie has written on, “Today, we are thrilled to share we received a decision from the school.

“They have granted permission for me to attend the school formal with my girlfriend Emily!

“To everyone who signed our petition, shared our story, and stood with us in solidarity: a heartfelt thank you. Your support has made a difference.

“We hope that our story can inspire others to challenge discriminatory policies and practices wherever they exist.”

‘Stand up against discrimination and support equal rights’

Writing last week, Abbie urged people to sign to “stand up against discrimination and support equal rights for all students” at her school.

“My girlfriend and I, along with many other students… have been eagerly awaiting the school formal for months,” she wrote.

“We’ve purchased non-refundable tickets and outfits in anticipation of this event.

“However we’ve recently discovered that St Ursula’s in Kingsgrove does not allow same-sex couples to attend the formal together.

“This policy not only discriminates against LGBTQ+ students. [It] also puts us in a difficult financial situation as we are left with non-refundable tickets and clothes.”

Laws allowing discrimination should be reformed

After Abbie’s petition made national headlines, other private faith schools in NSW publicly confirmed they allowed same-sex partners to attend formal celebrations equally.

But Equality Australia’s Anna Brown warned exemptions in state and federal law currently allow religious schools to discriminate against students on sexual orientation or gender identity. She said those laws should be reformed.

“These discriminatory practices are not theoretical or academic, as this incident sadly demonstrates,” she said.

Schools banning same-sex couples from formal is why some LGBTQIA+ groups hold inclusive Queer Formal events.

In Queensland, Brisbane Pride are hosting their Queer Formal free for school-age students on November 18 at lavish Brisbane City Hall.

And a similar event is also on in Coffs Harbour next month. A local youth service is hosting the Coffs Coast Queer Prom on November 25.

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