A boy who was made to apologise to female classmates for the “behaviours of (his) gender” says he was forced to “apologise for stuff we didn’t actually do”.
During a whole school assembly at Brauer College in Victoria, Australia, all male students were told to stand up, turn to a girl in their class and say sorry.
Parents were “furious” and “outraged”, Sky News Australia reported, adding that the boys’ parents were not notified beforehand.
The assembly was held amid growing concern about the treatment of girls at school, including in the UK.
Levi, aged 12, said it made him feel uncomfortable.
“I don’t think it’s okay to be sexually assaulted,” he told the Nine Network.
“I felt a bit under pressure to stand up, and if I didn’t I felt like I was a bad person.”
Another student, Vini, said many pupils left the gathering feeling upset and confused.
“I had girls behind me crying,” he said. “We had to apologise for stuff we didn’t actually do.”
A statement issued by Victoria’s education department on behalf of college principle Jane Boyle said the assembly had been “well-intentioned” but “inappropriate”.
Several parents have complained to the department, Nine Network reported.
Vini’s mother, Rebecca Hughes, said the school had handled the matter in a “very bad way”.
“All it’s doing is saying they’re perpetrators in the future – they are predators, they are rapists,” she added.
Principle Jane Boyle said in a statement: “Schools play an important role in the promotion of safety and respect of all students.
“This week (we) discussed the topic of respect for woman and the importance of bystander behaviour and speaking up to report incidents of inappropriate behaviour.
“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.
“Today, the school is contacting parents to explain the reasons behind the assembly and to ensure that any student who requires support is aware that it is available.”
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