Tuesday, 16 August 2022


Mount Lilydale Mercy College

Mount Lilydale Mercy College

Mr MEDDICK (Western Victoria) (19:34): (2044) My matter this evening is for the Minister for Education and concerns the actions of Mount Lilydale Mercy College, which has denied a student, Tayler Allwood, permission to show her short film both at the school awards night and on their online platforms because it reflects the LGBTIQA+ inclusive values of the majority of society and not those of the religious right. The action I seek is for the minister to investigate whether the school’s actions are in breach of Victoria’s anti-discrimination laws. Tayler’s film explores the intricacies, hurdles, fears and joys of a young girl coming to realise who she really is and as she explores what it means for her to be same-sex attracted. LGBTIQA+ youth are already our most vulnerable cohort, and by its actions the school is sending the community a message that LGBTIQA+ youth are somehow broken, wrong and have no place—a message we saw loudly promoted by the now federal opposition at the last election.

This is not the first time the school has decided to take a homophobic stance. In 2015 they brought in a person from a far-right religious organisation, who delivered a distinctly homophobic and transphobic presentation to students that described sexual behaviour as a ‘poor life choice’ and encouraged young women to marry after high school. They were also subjected to a game where as it progressed if they admitted to certain feelings, they were asked to sit down, exposing them as less than ideal. This led to them all feeling embarrassed and ashamed, open to being targeted and ridiculed.

We live in an inclusive society, one where the majority of people live in harmony with the LGBTIQA+ community. They are just purely and simply us—part of us all. As such, the majority of taxpayers feel that when their taxes go to education that education should include all students and not be discriminatory. Many feel rightly that private schools should not be allowed to hide like cowards behind the excuse of faith to continue with harmful and discriminatory policies towards our youth and take money from the public purse to do so—a public that strongly opposes those hurtful policies.

Tayler has earned the right as a hardworking, diligent student to have her work shown just as every other student will, to not be discriminated against or face potential punishment from staff or even be potentially excluded from exams. I hope the minister will take action against the school if they are in breach of our anti-discrimination laws and support not only Tayler but her family and her friends at school, who I have no doubt will now be fearful of being their true selves as well.