dance discrimination

All-Girls School Won’t Let Hannah Williams Bring Girlfriend To Dance, Because It’s A Chance to Meet Boys

Meet Hannah Williams. She’s Australia’s Constance McMillen, denied a chance to dance at her Melbourne school’s ball because she wanted to bring her girlfriend.

The 16-year-old Williams (left) was told by a teacher at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School she could not bring Savannah Supski, 15, to the annual formal, but she could bring a male date instead, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. “It made me very upset. I thought it was unfair so I didn’t go,” she says. “I put a lot of effort into trying to fix things. I had meetings with principals; looked through the Equal Opportunity Act; all my friends put posters up around the school and the teachers ripped them down. There was an easy solution; they just needed to let me go with my girlfriend.”

Indeed. Her father Peter filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission claiming sexual orientation discrimination. A September mediation session yielded little, as the school was standing firm in its position that girls should be dating boys, not other girls. Says Peter: “The school kept saying because it is an all-girls school we want to make an event where they can meet boys in a social scenario. That process is anachronistic and creates feelings of discrimination among girls who are same-sex-attracted.”

Principal Heather Schnagl sees nothing wrong with it: “I don’t think it’s appropriate they feel discriminated against, and I’m very upset they feel that. ‘If we opened it up and said girls could bring another female they would all bring females; the policy is trying to create an event where boys are invited. We are a school that has an all-girls environment, and they are meant to invite guests, not partners.” And when all else fails, Schnagl found another thing to have a problem with: “It’s an event for year 11s and the student’s guest was in year 10.” (Hannah says her girl friends were able to bring younger male dates.)

And that’s pretty much where the Williams family left it — decided to change schools instead of press the matter further. Also changing schools? Hannah’s girlfriend Savannah, so they can be together. The decision has the support of Savannah’s mom Sian: “The idea that there had to be a gender balance at the dinner dance seemed to be discriminatory. It was a very difficult time for Savannah but she’s an amazingly strong young person and we are very proud of her.”

So let’s have a round of applause for Hannah and Savannah’s wonderful parents. And some stink eye for an all-girls school that draws the line at all girls.

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  • Hyhybt

    “If we opened it up and said girls could bring another female they would all bring females…”

    You’re claiming, then, that ALL of the girls in your school are lesbians? Just what kind of place are you running, anyway?

  • samthor

    oh let the girls bring whoever they want.
    haven’t they suffered enough with those school uniforms?

  • Chris

    Well hooray for her parents anyway!

  • Heather

    Is it just coincidence that the teen lesbian from Mississippi who contemplated suicide (a few stories down on Queerty’s main page) is also named “Constance McMillan”?

    Seems like at very least a reporting error…

  • Heather

    My bad, just misread the intro to the article…

  • Jeffree

    More courageous lesbians setting a great example!!!
    More understanding parents!!!
    Less of Alan Brickman’s jealous quips!!! And his excessive punctuation!!!

  • Lea

    It’s amazing how the school administrators weren’t even making overtures towards Earth logic. Really? You want the girls to mingle with boys, but they all detest the male sex so much not even one of them would bring a boy unless you forced them? Really?

  • Melba

    I seem to remember Melbourne High School (select-entry all-boys Governnment School) saying something similar when Bracks introduced the Victorian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities (which Govt. agencies are bound by) in 2006, but their now part of a Safer-Schools Coalition to stop homophobic bullying. They’ll apologise eventually and claim to be mis-understood. I really don’t understand elite school’s obsession with teen sex. Do they really need to be bonking each other? Does it matter? Can’t they wait ’till they’re older?

  • Shaded Spriter

    I went to a grammer school for two years…the hommophobia in single sex grammer schools is institutionalized.

  • Carsen Tyler

    @Shaded Spriter: I went to a Catholic all girl school that taught us, it’s okay to be who we are and we don’t have to hide the fact that some of us were LGBT. They had a zero tolerance bullying policy and they enforced it. They made sure that we could bring who ever we wanted to date…as long as they weren’t over 21 (they said having dates who could legally drink was way too messy for the school’s insurance policy). My school also allowed LGBT families to enroll their kids as a couple rather than a single parent like most Catholic schools require them to do. We even had an all inclusive sex-ed class, that included safe sex for lesbians. Even though parents tried to change the school policy towards LGBT people, my school came back with hiring more LGBT staff (woo lesbian ex-nuns make for awesome philosophy teachers). Hell, I remember when best friend’s parents came to the school demanding that she had different class sections and lunch times from her girlfriend, the school did the opposite and put them all in the same classes because they knew that their parents weren’t going to let them see each other outside of school. So don’t say all single sex schools have homophobia institutionalized, my high school did quite the opposite.

    The sad part was they always took time to repeat to us, that how they treated us LGBT girls is not how all of the real world, especially the Catholic part of it, will treat us. But they thought that the other girls would learn from their example and that would slowly change the world for the better.

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