When Ruby Callaghan, 12, explained to her father that activities planned for her sixth-grade graduation involved the girls going to the library to get a makeover and boys going on a field trip to a local hardware store, he had strong feelings about the blatant sexism his daughter was facing at school.
Dad Stephen Callaghan shared his thoughts to the principal of Dubbo West Public School in New South Wales, Australia in a letter that he shared on Twitter:
Callaghan tells Babble:
“I felt I had to write the letter for two reasons: To support my daughter who was quite indignant about the situation, and secondly, to hopefully provide some food for thought for the school executive.”
He adds, “I think my daughter should be treated the same as any other student … and that means being given a choice and not being limited to activities that her teachers think are only suitable for girls.”
As for the humorous approach, Callaghan says, “I have a history of jokey letters to my kid’s schools. I feel humor softens the edges of a serious complaint … these schools at times can be very defensive.”
We can definitely relate to that.
The letter has since gone viral with over 8K likes and 3K retweets on Twitter, in addition to garnering some celebrity attention. Actor George Takei replied, “What decade is this anyway?” Actress Kathy Najimy chimed in saying:
The school responded to the letter through Grant Hatch, NSW Department of Education Media Manager, saying:
“A long tradition at Dubbo West Public School has been activities including preparing hair and light makeup with professionals on the day of the Year 6 graduation. Several years ago, the visit to Bunnings replaced the previous boys’ activity. The school is happy to accommodate any student who prefers the alternative activity.”
Callaghan asserts that his daughter asked to go to Bunnings (hardware store) but was told the trip was “only for the boys.” However, following the media attention, the school has given each child the option to choose.
In the end, Callaghan shares, “My daughter chose to get her hair done, but one girl from Ruby’s year did decide to do the Bunnings activity.”
Overwhelmed by the response his post received, the dedicated father has since responded with another message on Twitter:
As a child, I had to endure four classes of home economics while the boys got to do four classes of art. I didn’t think it was fair back 1987 and I still don’t. I wish I’d had a dad like Callaghan who isn’t afraid to fight for his daughter’s rights.
And for that, Callaghan makes no apologies: