Search This Blog

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Take your partners – but only if . . .

So you're looking forward to the big event, the high school prom, and all ready to take your boyfriend or girlfriend along. But, unless you are, respectively, a girl or a boy, you can forget it at the Anglican Grammar School in Brisbane, Australia.

And the move has got the backing of the leader of the Anglican Church there, Phillip Aspinall. He's also the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane and president of the School Council.

A number of the sixth-formers wanted to take their same-sex partners along to the prom. But they've been told by the headmaster that the purpose of the event has, according to this Pink News story, "traditionally been to allow interaction between young men and young women and the current school policy therefore only permits boys to take a female partner".

And why would this intersex mingling be encouraged in a society that traditionally sees such social interaction between young men and young women as a prelude to perhaps more intimate relationships? Well, to create a prelude to perhaps more intimate relationships, one assumes. At least to provide the right opportunity for such relationships to begin to flourish in a social setting.

After all, merely having young men and women in each other's company just for the sake of balance or for the hell of it could be achieved by their just going along – alone or with partner or pal – and mixing in with the guys and girls who are there, whether they're with partners or not. Indeed, why insist on a partner at all? Why not just announce the ball and let things shake down?

We have to assume, then, that it is about a prelude to potential pair-bonding (and there's nothing wrong with that), and not just about having men and women in each other's company. It's about a couple of young people who like each other's company, or would like to get to know each other better because they like each other's look or mien, and so go out in a social situation to show off their togetherness.

Given that, why should same-sex couples be left out?

In fairness, the head honcho, John Hensman, thinks the school council ought to have a look at it, but hasn't changed his mind, and is urging students to make formal representations. So, meanwhile, gay young women and men will have to pretend to be potentially pair-bonding with a member of the opposite sex or not go at all (or perhaps go along and be a wallflower or a gooseberry, if solo attendance is allowed).

As for Aspinall, the man in the frock, he has this to say: "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."

And we know what you mean by friends, don't we, Archbishop? Not the sort of relationship we've been discussing here.

Queensland's state Premier Anna Bligh is speaking some sense on the issue, without actually coming out one way or the other on the prom issue: "Parents will inevitably have strong views, both ways," she says. "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."

No comments: