Pupil backs down on school ball fight

02:05, Jun 16 2011
pats std
DISAPPOINTED: Malcolm Pimentel from St Patrick's College, who has been told he will not be allowed to attend the school ball this weekend if he wants to bring another boy as his date.

The initiators of a Facebook page dedicated to convincing a Wellington boys' college to let a student attend the school ball with a male date have taken the page down.

The Facebook 'event' originally called "Get Malcolm Pimentel and Keith Labad to the St Pat's Ball" captured headlines and attracted more than 12,000 supporters in 48 hours.

Although it didn't reach its goal of convincing Wellington's St Patrick's College to allow Malcolm to bring his friend former St Pat's student Keith Labad to the ball, the pair see their mission accomplished as the page had "inspired others who often remain silent to speak out".

Queer the Night spokesman Jason Frick told NZPA Malcolm was taken by surprise by the overwhelming media attention.

He was also reluctant to continue because he did not want to see the fight against homophobia turn into an attack on his school or religion.

He said Malcolm now wanted to focus on his last year of study and made the decision not to push the issue to the next stage.

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The debate began when Malcolm was told by St Pat's Rector Father Paul Martin that if he wanted to attend, he had to bring a girl, which Malcolm and Keith saw as a homophobic school policy.

St Pat's Fr Martin denied homophobic intentions and said that the ball was for the students from his school and therefore they would not allow boys from other colleges or old boys to attend.

"If the policy says that you may not take a boy to the dance who is one year out of school, but may take a girl who is one year out of school, then they are indirectly homophobic," the boys complained.

The policy, by its very design, created a de facto ban on the ability of homosexual students to bring a partner from outside of their own school, Keith said.

The great interest on the Facebook page showed that "we as a community we will not take homophobia lying-down anymore".

Keith said he was pleased to "have sparked a public debate and brought the wide-spread issue of homophobic ball policies to national attention".

NZPA