The School Ball

Can the school stop me from going to the school ball on my own?

This question crops up a lot during the school ball season; the Commission often receives inquiries from students and parents seeking to know if the Human Rights Act 1993 might apply.

The short answer is no, there is nothing the Human Rights Commission can do about the requirement that a person cannot go to the ball on their own because there is no ground of unlawful discrimination in the Human Rights Act that applies to this situation.

Can I take a partner of the same-sex to my school ball?

If the Commission receives a complaint that a person had been excluded from attending the ball because they wanted to attend with a partner of the same-sex, this could raise questions of possible unlawful discrimination under the Human Rights Act.

It may be that – by being required to attend with a member of the opposite sex – the person feels excluded because of either their sexual orientation or because of the gender of their partner. It is unlawful to discriminate on either of these grounds in the area of education.

If such a complaint was received, the Commission would seek to mediate the matter through its informal, confidential and free disputes resolution process. If this process did not arrive at a resolution, the parties would have the right to take the complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

The Commission has received complaints about similar school policies in the past. The Commission has suggested that the students or parents first discuss the situation with the principal. This has allowed the issue to be sorted out satisfactorily within the school community.