A Victorian school has sparked outrage over a school assembly where male students were made to stand up and apologise to female classmates.
In the wake of a national outcry to protect woman from sexual assault, and allegations of harassment and assault at an elite Melbourne school last week, Brauer College in Warrnambool asked boys to apologise to girls for offensive behaviour on behalf of their gender.
A post circulating on social media said the school held a presentation that suggested girls felt uncomfortable when they were asked out by boys.
Parent Danielle Shepherd said her 12-year-old son was in the assembly, and she told radio station 3AW they watched a video about showing respect towards women.
"They were all asked to stand in solidarity to apologise to the female gender on behalf of their gender, which he wasn't sure 100 per cent why," she said.
"He now has this misconception that all boys are now looked at as predators."
Ms Shepherd also shared on Facebook a screenshot of Snapchat messages believed to have been sent by a male student at the school.
“Today at Brauer they made every guy stand up and apologise to every girl for rape, sexual assault and so on," the message said.
“Guys are always the ‘bad guys’ in everything these days. I’m not saying girls do not go through sh*t. Guys go through as much sh*t as girls do.”
Mum says Brauer College's actions were 'disgusting'
Ms Shepherd was outraged by the incident, writing on Facebook it was "actually disgusting".
"Not at all impressed that you made my son apologise for something he's never done nor considered doing," she wrote.
She added that the students were not aware of why they had to apologise and her son thought he was in trouble.
"He was quite distressed over it. So they have put a whole bunch of male students through distress by not 1. Telling parents about this before commencing [and] 2. Ensuring all the boys understood the concept of what they were doing," she said.
"They should have notified us before going ahead with it ... I had no knowledge of this until it came up in my [Facebook] news feed.
"I asked [my son] and he's like, 'Yeah, they made us all stand up and apologise for something we haven't even done."
While Ms Shepherd acknowledged the issues facing women were important, she did not agree with how the school broached the topic.
"They should have notified parents prior and it should not have been only the male population of the school," she wrote on Facebook.
"Solidarity and equality demand that the girls be included in such a movement.
"No forethought and poor execution on Brauer's part."
3AW radio host Neil Mitchell wrote also expressed shock over the assembly.
"We've lost the plot here," he said on Facebook.
"The huge majority of those kids would be good kids, respectful kids.
"It is an awful error."
Some parents however supported the school's actions which came after the Victorian government on Sunday made it mandatory for all state schools to teach classes on consent.
“I’m glad these issues are being discussed at school and all schools should do the same,” one said.
"There’s always more than one side to a story. This is just one student’s take on what happened," another parent claimed.
Warrnambool school apologises for assembly
Brauer College principal Jane Boyle apologised for the assembly, adding asking the male students to stand as a "symbolic gesture of apology" was inappropriate.
“Schools play an important role in the promotion of safety and respect of all students, and discussions in schools around respect towards women and girls are a key part of this work,” she said in a statement to media.
“This week, at a whole school assembly, Brauer College discussed the topic of respect for women and the importance of bystander behaviour and speaking up to report incidents of inappropriate behaviour.
“The assembly included the screening of a video message by Brisbane Boys’ College Captain Mason Black about being proactive in stopping incidents of sexual assault and harassment.
“As part of this discussion boys were asked to stand as a symbolic gesture of apology for the behaviours of their gender that have hurt or offended girls and women.
“In retrospect, while well-intended, we recognise that this part of the assembly was inappropriate.”
Yahoo News Australia has contacted Brauer College for comment.
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