School in Australia makes male students apologise for ‘behaviours of their gender’

30 March 2021, 10:42 | Updated: 30 March 2021, 14:43

Boys at Brauer College were told to stand up in assembly and apologise for "behaviours of their gender".
Boys at Brauer College were told to stand up in assembly and apologise for "behaviours of their gender". Picture: Google Maps

Parents say they were left “completely mortified” after a school in Australia told male students to stand up in assembly and apologise to their female peers for “behaviours of their gender”.

Brauer College in Warrnambool, Victoria, held the whole school assembly last week, when they say “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”.

While the school says the move was “well-intended”, parents and male students have been left furious, with many speaking out about the event.

Levi, 12, told A Current Affair he felt “a bit under pressure to stand up and if I didn’t then I felt like a bad person”.

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Meanwhile, male student Vini, 15, claims many of the girls “probably didn’t even want us to say sorry to them”.

Vini says he heard girls behind him “crying because they just got basically exposed to the whole entire school”.

His mother told the Australian TV show that she felt the school had “handled this in a very bad way”.

"He has got to say sorry to a girl who he has never done anything to....All it’s doing is saying they're perpetrators in the future, they are going to be predators, they are going to be rapists,” she said.

Nicole Daniels, also a parent at the school, said she was left “completely mortified, completely and utterly mortified and shocked”.

“What they have made the boys do, they have labelled them and categorised them all into the same category as a perpetrator and a rapist when these boys have done absolutely nothing wrong,” Ms Daniels told the Australian Today show.

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However, some parents have come to the defence of the school, with one mother reportedly posting on Facebook that the exercise was only intended to “raise awareness”.

“My son explained they stood not to apologise, but to stand in support and solidarity,' another parent wrote.

“You'll find all schools will be teaching consent over the next year - Brauer won't be the only one.”

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'Problematic'

The assembly came after thousands of women and girls at schools across Australia have shared their stories of being sexually assaulted, harassed or raped.

The movement began after former Kambala School student Chanel Contos launched a petition in February, demanding students be taught about consent.

Ms Contos herself has described Brauer College’s assembly as “problematic”, telling NCA NewsWire: “It doesn’t address the root of the problem.”

“We can’t make it seem like men are being the heroes here.

“If all men are to all stand in solidarity they kind of have a get-out-of-jail-free card – I’m obviously on the girl’s side, but will [boys] still go to the locker room after school and talk about a girl they had sex with on the weekend really inappropriately, maybe, probably.

“We need to make sure as a society that movements towards reconciliation are movements towards making a better future… we can’t make a hostile environment for people to offer up solutions.”

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Brauer College responds

In a statement, Brauer College said: “Schools play an important role in the promotion of safety and respect of all students, and discussions in schools around respect towards girls and women are a key part of this vital work.

“This week, at a whole school assembly, Brauer College discussed the topic of respect for woman 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.”