Catholic school refuses to show media student’s same-sex movie

Key points

  • A Melbourne secondary school is refusing to broadcast a year 12 student’s film about same-sex attraction because it is not in line with Catholic values.
  • Mount Lilydale Mercy College says the film promotes acts which go against the teaching of the Church. 
  • Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick says year 12 student and filmmaker Tayler Allwood is being discriminated against. 
  • Catholic schools educate 20.9 per cent of Victorian students and 20 per cent of Australians call themselves Catholic.

A Melbourne secondary school is refusing to screen a year 12 student’s film about same-sex attraction because it is not in line with Catholic values.

Paul Allwood said his daughter, Tayler, was distraught that the film she had “poured her heart and soul into” would not be shown in its entirety at an end–of-year school function.

Mount Lilydale Mercy College year 12 student Tayler Allwood is protesting because her school won’t broadcast her film.Credit:Age

Tayler said her production, which ends with a lesbian kiss, would be the only media studies film not showcased at a visual arts exhibition in October or uploaded to the school’s website.

“I believe it’s an act of discrimination,” she said. “All I want them to do is change their minds, so I can be included with my classmates.”

The school, Mount Lilydale Mercy College in Melbourne’s outer east, said it had decided not to publicly share or promote the film as it depicts “some scenes that are not in keeping with our values as a Catholic school”.

Principal Philip Morison said the school strove to be a “community where the dignity and uniqueness of every student is respected and nurtured with sensitivity and compassion, including in relation to sexual orientation”.

A still from Tayler Allwood’s year 12 media studies short film.

“While the guidelines for the production were made clear, it was permitted to proceed by the teacher due to the passion of the student for the project, and will be submitted for VCE assessment purposes.”

Tayler said the school had warned her it would probably not broadcast a queer film, but she was perplexed the school nonetheless approved the project.

“I thought they would be OK with it,” she said. “I thought we had gotten past that, but obviously not after hearing the news last Thursday.”

Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick, who raised the issue in parliament on Tuesday, said Tayler was being discriminated against and the school’s actions were not reflective of community values.

Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick.Credit:Eddie Jim

“I personally believe that if you’re a school, regardless of your religious beliefs, if you’re receiving public funding, then you have a responsibility to reflect the values of the community, not of your particular faith,” he said.

Twenty per cent of Australians are Catholic and Catholic schools educate 20.9 per cent of Victorian students, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

Professor Tiffany Jones of the Macquarie School of Education said there was sometimes a disconnect between Catholic schools and their communities.

“The teaching of the church is arguable … because you will get Catholics who support LGBTIQ+ people, you will get Catholics who are LGBTIQ+ people,” she said.

“I think it would be a good idea for her video to be viewed and for people to have open discussions about real-world issues. And if we’re not doing that in schools, what are we doing?”

Under the federal Sex Discrimination Act, faith-based schools may discriminate against students on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender.

The Albanese government has promised to scrap this right, as well as legislate to protect against discrimination because of religious belief.

Tayler, a year 12 music prefect, will submit the movie to film schools and festivals.

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