Archbishop Phillip Aspinall backs Churchie on gay ban

Article from: The Courier-Mail April 14, 2008 5:30pm


Article from: AAP,23739,23537452-3102,00.html

April 14, 2008 05:30pm

THE head of the Anglican Church has backed a Brisbane school's decision to turn down the request of gay students to bring male partners to a school dance, as Queensland Premier Anna Bligh welcomed debate on the issue.

Several of the Anglican Church Grammar School's 215 Year 12 students want to take their gay partners to their end-of-year dance on June 19.

However, under current policy, the young men may only attend the ball with a female partner.

Headmaster Jonathan Hensman said the policy had never been challenged and it had always been the tradition that boys took girls to their matriculation dance.

However, Mr Hensman said he was open to discussing the matter with students and encouraged those concerned to raise the issue in writing so he could refer it to the school council for debate.

No complaint has yet been lodged with Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commission.

Anglican Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, who is president of the school council, said he supported the headmaster's decision.

"I have no personal objection to a school deciding to allow boys to take friends who are boys or girls to take friends who are girls to school formals," Dr Aspinall told ABC Radio.

"But I understand in this particular instance the school has decided that its approach is to emphasise the interaction of young men and young women and providing them with an opportunity to do that in this kind of formal setting.

"And I have no objection to that either. I think that's a reasonable and legitimate approach."

Dr Aspinall said all students should be treated with respect and care.

Ms Bligh said she supported the school's decision to discuss the issue within its community.

"These are very difficult issues for schools to manage and I can understand why it's not a clear-cut matter," Ms Bligh told reporters in Brisbane today.

"Parents will inevitably have strong views, both ways.

"I can certainly say that as (a past) education minister I'm aware that many teachers and many guidance officers and school support staff face the reality of talking to young people about their sexuality.

"We can't put our head in the sand on this.

"As young people develop from their early teenage years through to young adulthood the question of sexuality will emerge and it will arise."