Sydney all-girls school bans same-sex couples from attending prom with their partners

St Ursula's College in Sydney, Australia

A Catholic all-girls school in Australia has been criticised for implementing a rule banning same-sex couples from attending its formal dance together. 

St Ursula’s College, in the Kingsgrove suburb of Sydney, reportedly told parents that students are only allowed to bring a date from the opposite sex to the dance. The decision has attracted widespread criticism, with New South Wales premier Chris Minns calling for the school to overturn the ruling.

“In this day and age, you should be able to take anyone you like to your year 12 formal, we are, after all, talking about teenagers who are close to or over the age of 18,” Minns said on Thursday (26 October).

A mother of one distraught pupil told Sky News Australia: “At first I thought… maybe there wasn’t enough room at the venue, or it was all partners. I didn’t realise until they actually spelt it out: ‘Your daughter’s bringing another female student’.

“I said to them it’s just their friend. ‘It doesn’t matter’, they said, ‘the rules are the rules. The principal has made the decision in conjunction with Sydney Catholic Schools’.

“I got off the phone from the school because my daughter was distraught.”

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Students created a petition to push back against the school’s policy (

A petition started by a student urging St Ursula’s to reconsider has garnered more than 4,000 signatures.

“My girlfriend and I… have been eagerly awaiting the school formal for months. We’ve purchased non-refundable tickets, and outfits, in anticipation of this event. However, we’ve recently discovered that the school does not allow same-sex couples to attend the formal together,” the petition reads. 

“This policy not only discriminates against LGBTQ+ students but also puts us in a difficult financial situation as we are left with non-refundable tickets, and clothes that were bought specifically for this occasion.”

The petition added that 61.6 per cent of people in Australia voted “yes” in a nationwide survey on same-sex marriage, proving a “clear public sentiment towards inclusivity and acceptance”. 

A spokesperson for Sydney Catholic Schools, which runs 147 education institutions, told the Sydney Morning Herald that it “traditionally celebrates year 12 completion through events that either do not involve students bringing friends or partners, or they bring friends or partners of the opposite sex”.

This long-standing approach will continue, the spokesperson added.

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