Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I thought this only happened in Alabama?

A Wellington school is refusing to allow a student to bring a same-sex date to the school ball. Unsurprisingly, its a Catholic school, and no doubt they'd claim that they are merely following their religious beliefs. But that's no excuse - because this is clearly unlawful. Sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Act; educational establishments are forbidden from denying or restricting access to any of their services or subjecting students to any detriment on any of those grounds. While there is an exemption allowing same sex or religious schools to discriminate on those grounds to maintain their character, it does not permit discrimination on other grounds. A Catholic school cannot engage in homophobic discrimination simply because it is Catholic, any more than they can kick someone out for being Maori. Or, in this case, ban people from bringing Maori dates to a school event.

The school in question is an integrated school, so your tax dollars are paying for this bigotry. That too is unlawful, and the Ministry of Education should be stepping in to stop it. If the school refuses, then its Board of Trustees should be dismissed and replaced by a commissioner. Schools cannot be permitted to flout the law and engage in discrimination in this manner.