Ballarat school backs down over same-sex deb dates

Kiana Prewett has been given permission to attend the Mt Clear College debutante ball with whoever she chooses. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Kiana Prewett has been given permission to attend the Mt Clear College debutante ball with whoever she chooses. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

A MT Clear College student will be allowed to attend her high school debutante with whoever she chooses, according to the school's principal. 

In an interview with The Courier on Tuesday, Kiana Prewett said the school had told her she could not attend the event with her female friend because the pairing was not traditional. 

However, the school told The Courier Wednesday morning a decision had been made to allow the student to take who she chooses. 

When the year 11 Mt Clear College student's boyfriend could not attend, Kiana invited a close friend instead. However, they were told it was not allowed. 

Kiana said the school's guidelines to participate were that you had to go as a boy and girl pair and from the participating year levels at the school. 

Mt Clear College principal Lynita Taylor said the school had only nine female students show interest in attending the debutante ball this year and had to cancel the event in 2013 due to a lack of interest. 

"It is outdated and we are very keen to change to nature of the senior school presentation ball to be inclusive of everyone" - Mt Clear College principal Lynita Taylor

"It is outdated and we are very keen to change to nature of the senior school presentation ball to be inclusive of everyone," Ms Taylor said. 

She made it clear a new and more modern ball would be inclusive of everyone, with the debutante contradicting the feel and values of the school 

She said the the debutante ball was discriminatory to many students who could not afford to attend. 

The school council had provided advice to the college on the ruling surrounding the debutante ball.  

The school is a member of Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, where 129 schools have joined forces in a program which aims to make all schools safe and supportive places for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, teachers and families. 

"It really surprised me. When I started at the school at the beginning of the year, they gave a presentation about how they were supporting equality among students, but then they say this," Ms Prewett said. 

Her father, Justin Prewett, said he wanted his daughter to go the event, dress up and have fun like everyone else. 

"It's important she goes with someone she's comfortable with," Mr Prewett said. 

"She couldn't take her male friend, so she tried to take her female friend and the school said no." 

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