TWO Melbourne high school students have started a petition calling on their school to allow same-sex couples to attend the school’s debutante ball.
Both in year 11 at Bundoora Secondary College in the city’s north, friends Tia D’Amico and Rebekah Mills created the Change.org petition as a way to champion LGBTI students who would like to attend their “deb” with a same-sex partner.
“Since we’re still young we’re finding ourselves, so your school has to be really supportive of your ideas and who you are,” she told the Star Observer.
“I’ve had people comment on the petition saying their school would never let anyone take a same-sex partner to the deb.
“What schools need to realise, now that it’s 2016, is that it’s a lot more common and people feel more comfortable being themselves and expressing themselves.”
D’Amico and Mills came up with the idea last year, as they didn’t feel comfortable around the boys in their year grade.
Mills said they weren’t sure how their school would react, but decided to act on the idea of going to the deb together this year nonetheless.
“We feel good about making a movement, because we know a lot of schools don’t allow it,” she told the Star Observer.
“We’ve had friends from different schools who haven’t been able to experience the deb with their partner just because they identify as LGBT and we think it’s a really important thing to change.
“It may be a tradition for men and women to go together, but it needs to be more open and available to same-sex attracted people.”
Mills added that schools need to be more LGBTI-inclusive across the board, not just at the debutante ball.
“Even same-sex couples going out together, people still don’t like it,” she said.
“It needs to be something that is allowed.”
At the time of print, D’Amico and Mills’ petition currently has 468 of the 500 signatures they’re hoping to reach.
While debutante balls are traditionally about presenting oneself as a young woman or man, the two students believe it can be a nightmare if they are of diverse gender or sexuality.
“If the school questions the petition, they can see that there are heaps of people that support the idea and can see that times have changed,” D’Amico said.
While both students have spoken to a number of teachers at their high school who were also willing to help them fight for inclusion, they have not yet received a response from the school itself.