'Never happened': Principal denies Vote No mum's claim 'boy told he could wear dress'
A Melbourne high school principal has hit back at a mother who claimed in an anti same-sex marriage TV advertisement, that her son was told he could wear a dress to school as part of its gender diversity program.
Cella White made headlines last year when she threatened to pull her children out of Frankston High School because she claimed it was teaching “dangerous” and “age inappropriate” content as part of the Safe Schools program, which aims to support gender and sexual diversity.
The mother, who said she had no religious affiliation, previously featured in videos slamming the Safe Schools program, and is now chiming in as part of the Coalition for Marriage's TV commercial, led by the Australian Christian Lobby, which aired on Tuesday night.
"The school told my son that he could wear a dress to school next year if he wanted," Ms White said in the 30-second advertisement.
Ms White told Q&A in March last year she was disturbed by her son being offered to wear a dress to school as part of Frankston High School's Safe Schools program.
"I believe it is biology that defines what sex you are, not radical gender theory," she said on the program.
"I did not feel comfortable with my daughter sharing restrooms or PE change rooms with the boys who wish to identify as girls and withdrew her enrolment into year seven this year."
She also claimed her child was also told to refer to a transgender person by their requested pronoun.
“What is the benefit to my son? He’s got a learning disability, he’s struggling with his times tables, he doesn’t need to deal with this,” she told the Herald Sun.
However Frankston High School principal John Albiston dismissed the claims, saying the school did not have any openly transgender students, and teachers were consulted and he believed such a discussion "never happened," he told News.com.au.
“What we do at Frankston is accept all students and people, regardless of cultural origin, disabilities and gender,” he told News.com.au.
“Joining the Safe Schools Coalition is about informing staff and learning how these young people can be supported — we are not encouraging boys to wear dresses or doing anything different to what we’ve always done.”
He added that teachers never received any complaints about advising male students they could wear dresses.
"[Ms White] has never spoken to me about it. You would think if she was so concerned she would have raised it."
Despite denying the uniform discussion, Mr Albiston was confused as to why the issue was being used to fuel the anti same-sex marriage agenda.
"Why would this so-called incident that never happened have anything to do with marriage equality?" he asked.
The Coalition for Marriage's commercial has prompted Education Minister Simon Birmingham to voice his disdain for the misleading claims.
"It is patently ridiculous to suggest that allowing same-sex couples to marry is somehow going to see some new wave of teaching reform sweep across the country," Senator Birmingham told the ABC.
"That's just not going to happen. This is a simple issue, and it should not be conflated with other issues."