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NZ government looks into ignored same-sex ball query

The New Zealand government is investigating why schools turned down questions about same-sex couples in balls

The New Zealand Ombudsman is looking into schools that have refused to answer questions about same-sex couples attending balls.

Matthew Taylor, a 17-year-old student, lodged requests for related policy information to 431 secondary schools with year 12 and 13 students, The New Zealand Herald reported today (4 March).

But out of those schools, 170 made no response, 30 replied with conditions, and some others sought to cover administrative costs.

Under the Official Information Act, such requests must be answered within 20 working days, according to Taylor.

Many refused to answer his enquiries, citing insufficient information on his identity, but just one school said flat-out same-sex dates would not be permitted.

A number of schools used ‘case by case basis’ as a response, which simply does not apply to opposite-sex dates or friends, Taylor said, adding many schools made unconvincing excuses such as ‘previous vandalism’.

Some schools were somewhat hostile. A representative from Waitara High School asked Taylor not to contact her again on such matters as ‘schools are extremely busy and… [her] time is better spent ensuring the highest quality learning is taking place.’

Rob Sturch from Hastings Boys’ High School went so far as to say, ‘Good morning Mr Taylor, please feel free to complain. Yours sincerely R G Sturch.’

A story broke in June about how Malcolm Pimentel, a gay student, was not allowed to bring his male partner, an ex-student, to his school ball.

An appalled Taylor contacted the school, but was told that it did not have a policy on same-sex dates. He then set out to send a request to hundreds of schools, asking for policies.

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