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Byron Shire
October 17, 2021

Cross-dressing Ballina school students sent home to get changed

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Xavier College senior students were sent home today to change after cross-dressing for Muck-Up Day. PHOTO supplied.


Parents of students at a private Catholic high school in Ballina say administrators sent the entire year twelve cohort home early today to change after a cross-dressing prank.

With spring comes academic assessment time at schools and universities and Australian high school seniors nearing the end of one of the most formative experiences of their lives have kept up a tradition called ‘muck-up day’.

While not an official event on school calendars, principals and teachers generally tolerate Muck-Up Day as gesture of good-will to students, who presumably need to let off steam after weeks and months studying intensively, many hoping to get good enough marks to qualify for tertiary education.

Water-pistol fights, food fights, dying the school pool a crazy colour, drawing on buildings with chalk… these are the sorts of pranks year twelve students typically carry out on Muck-Up Days across the country.

But in Skennar’s Head this year, around a hundred senior students at Xavier Catholic College chose a slightly different stunt.

Catholic school ‘out of touch’ with today’s generation

The school is co-ed but uniforms are gendered, so the students swapped uniforms for the day: boys in the girls’ skirts and Peter Pan-collared shirts, girls in the boys’ shorts and conventional short-sleeved shirts.

Girls and boys sent home to change after swapping uniforms on Muck-Up Day at Xavier College in Skennar’s Head. PHOTO supplied.

Looking at photos of the students, the difference in the costumes is subtle and the prank might seem tame to older generations who might remember egging their principal’s car on Muck-Up Day.

But the school’s reaction was bold, stern and unforgiving: all year twelve students were sent home to change back into conventional gendered outfits and parents were notified accordingly via text.

‘This just shows how out of touch the school is with today’s generation,’ one parent told Echonetdaily.

‘They’re good kids, they’re not bad kids, this is just harmless fun.’

The mother, who didn’t want to be publicly named in case the school reacted negatively towards her family, said with the church experiencing a loss of faith, it was unbelievable such a lack of understanding of today’s generation existed.

She said the school had also forbidden students from participating in last week’s strikes, where hundreds of thousands of Australian students took to the streets demanding action on climate change.

But she was otherwise very happy with the school, from where three of her children had graduated in past years.

No comment from Catholic educators

Xavier Catholic College Principal Michael Vella has managed the school for at least five years and has so far declined to give comment on the incident.

The Catholic Schools Office for the Lismore Diocese has also been asked for comment.

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  1. Congratulations Xavier students for providing a clever, witty and subversive prank that has clearly rattled the top brass! Catholic hierarchy’s obsession with controlling sexuality unfortunately didn’t extend to their own pedo priests and their stance on same sex marriage, contraception and abortion – and fluid sexuality – deserves to be challenged. Thanks for making my day – kids really do have the right to be heard and seen, and I love what you’re doing to encourage action on our existential climate crisis – so ignore your elders and march til you drop!

  2. The school’s too precious for its own good. It was
    Muck-up Day after all. Sounds & looks to me (yes
    I went to a Catholic school for a short time years
    ago) as if nothing has changed. This smacks of
    troll thinking. Once again ‘religiousness’ is doing
    a ‘control’ power thing because it can.

  3. Typical Catholic school response. So backward in many ways.
    Students don’t get a better education at these schools, they get their heads stuffed with Catholicism & pity anyone who shows some creative commentary.
    How petty to send home these Yr12’s. Many of them are adults (18) or very close to it.
    Shame on the Principal & staff for their behaviour !

  4. Wait a minute !
    These kids are sent to the most antediluvian religious sect for indoctrination, and then the parents are surprised when they are treated with ignorance and contempt. What do you expect ?
    Any institution that would prevent children protesting the destruction of their environment and future prospects ,to my mind is evil and it seems that one of the parents that fears ” the school reacted negatively towards her family” has formed a similar opinion. We can only hope these poor kids can recover from their horific experience at the hands of these monsters ,I know many who have not !

    • Sorry mate but you have this all wrong. I am one of the students that was involved and there was no ignorance or contempt. The principal felt that he had to do what he did to prevent younger years from thinking that muck up was allowed and stop the seed of potential dangerous escalation in the future. The only thing I think that our principle did wrong is choose not to comment. If he had simply explained what I have said now it would not have been a problem. One way or another the truth is this has nothing to do with any form of stigma towards transgender or intersex communities, it was fundamentally an act for the safety of students, albeit a poorly handled and disproportionate one. The school also does not necessarily condemn strikes for the environment, just the prevention of students learning. It also happens that the Catholic Schools Office has rules surrounding strikes during the school week which Xavier has to follow. Stop jumping on the “Catholic Schools are nazi’s/evil bandwagon”, Mr Vella only wants what’s best for us.

    • That’s taking it a bit far. I went there and the staff were great for the most part. Sure, the administration could get wound up about some pointless sh!7 but I don’t think I know a single graduate that wouldn’t describe it as a good school.

  5. Wow, back in 1987 my School Principal in Sydney would’ve given his right arm for a Muck up day that was as tame and respectful as this. I am sure that many Principals past and present would have many horror stories of Year 12 benders and vandalism. All power to the Year 12 Seniors, you played fair.

  6. Love the school but his has gone too far to allow the kids to do this on their last day of school. The typical response from the Catholic School office of on elf those parents objects is to ban them from the school grounds under a 100 year old law rule under the Lands Protection Act. Gutless act Catholic Schools are doing now to hide the things they do!

  7. It just so happens that Mt St Pats, also a Catholic School, does the exact same thing in Yr 12 but it is a yearly tradition condoned by the school, teachers and students. I’m very surprised that Xavier would resort to this action.

  8. I went to a catholic school way too many years ago. My school days would have been much happier had they sent home the paedophiles.

  9. Good on you kids! Have a bit of fun. You deserve it. I hope this will not tarnish your memories. Do well in your exams and fly high.
    Sometimes adults get it wrong and the real grown ups can admit it and learn from it. I wonder if your head of school is big enough?

  10. I attend/attended (I’m also graduating) a Catholic High School within the Lismore Diocese, I know some of these students through the diocese and our school found itself in a similar situation. Today (Tuesday the 24th of September) was supposed to be our last day of formal lessons, however instead, it was not. Yesterday the year 12 cohort was told that yesterday (Monday) was our last day. We suspect that rumours about a Muck-up day were the reason for this sudden decision. It was very inconvenient because teachers and students had plans; revision and practice papers were to be handed out or handed back for marking or class farewells and presents. Unfortunately, my cohort has missed out on a lot of ‘fun’ activities such as ‘scav’ and are forced to wear our school uniform everywhere due to previous years misbehaving.

  11. There kids or young adults having some harmful fun.
    I guess the school would be a lot happier if they were vandalizing or stealing or maybe having bullying tactics.
    It’s there time of the year after lots of hard study to let loose and enjoy a laugh..
    Harmful fun..

  12. As a parent of boys at the school, on the contrary, it’s many of the parents at the school who area out of touch. Not even Christian let alone catholic, if you don’t like the schools rules, then send your kids to a stiener school or whatever. Parents behaving like infants expecting children to behave like adults. It’s all tits up. You all think your being Clever and reactionary, but your just being boring.

  13. Given that the hierarchy which, in defiance of reality demand to be known as ‘father’ despite proclaimed celibacy… another virgin birth miracle, only this time the father is the virgin, routinely get around in the most gorgeous dresses, aka robes this seems a bit odd.

  14. Parents putting kids into Catholic schools and acting surprised that they are formal and religious. They got sent home wow who cares.

  15. I do go to this school, and while I think this article and the whole situation is hilarious, the ECHO has kinda blown it out of proportion. We aren’t being banned from going to climate strikes. And many teachers thought this was a funny muck up day prank. This is a great school, and all the principal and vice principals are great.

  16. It really is past the time when religious organisations are allowed to run schools.
    Religosity has been scientifically diagnosed as a mental disorder and goverments are putting these people in charge of children.

  17. I graduated from this school six years ago. Since graduating I have worked so incredibly hard to decondition myself from the years of controlling and borderline psychotic “learning environment” that was placed on me during my years attending Xavier Catholic College.

    This school leaves no room for growth, expression nor does it nurture any sort of creativity. The teachers are over powering control freaks who gain pleasure over undermining students.

    Their methods of teaching, discipline and most importantly communication are beyond outdated.

    I hope that this school run by cold hearted fascists receives a huge reality check.

  18. School was wrong. Let the kids have a bit of harmless fun. It happened once in a twelve year stretch.
    A Grandpa and Grandma both 80 years old.

  19. Did the school check with the pope, lol. Catholicism is shooting itself in the foot, what on earth is the principal thinking, because he is so out of touch with the community, children and parents alike. No wonder catholicism is in decline, it’s losing it’s perspective as being central to the people. The Koran will fill the gap it’s the one religion growing world wide, wait for it!

  20. Hang on, should we send the priest home as well as they crossdress in there full length robe. Come on Michael Vella and Catholic Office, this has gone too far. The Royal Commission really hasn’t changed the Catholic schools and Diocese. They still are stopping the kids from expressing themselves and speaking out. Unfortunately they are too gutless to make a comment and will treat the kids and parents with distain!

  21. From now on I expect to see all pupils, teachers,
    & cloth coated principals in every school wearing
    ‘striped pyjamas’ each muck-up day… & parents
    sporting the same.

  22. So it’s acceptable for high school students to throw toilet paper over buildings and dye their hair pink for muck-up day, yet dressing to represent gender equality is unacceptable? I can’t believe these year 12 students were sent home from school. Whoever made that decision, grow up.

    What does muck – up day stand for? what does a school stand for? what are your reasonable non- discriminative grounds for sending these adolescence home for dressing the way they did?

    You should be congratulating and encouraging this generation for their comradery to create a better world, when the people they are fighting against are pushing so hard in the opposite direction, or simply turning a blind eye.

    Schools are meant to help shape our children, to guide them and ready them for a future where they can go in to the world knowing freedom of expression, to feel confident in regards to applying for jobs, travelling, studying, starting families, or for whichever direction they choose to take.

    I attended Southern Cross High school in Ballina and graduated in 2011. We had teachers who respected our beliefs , who stood by us and encouraged us to be the best versions of ourselves. Our teachers and leaders were representatives of diversity.

    Xavier Catholic College, where do you stand?

    Teachers are so valued, so can you please start looking after the current generations and the ones to come.

    Every person in their right minds.

  23. I have long retired from many years as a high school Principal.

    All Principals dread so-called ‘muck up days’. I happily tolerated genuine displays of wit, even if it meant having the mickey taken out of me personally. My worry was egging younger students, drunken behaviour (including a student vomiting all over himself) & antisocial activities on the adjoining girls school campus.

    I once cancelled a Year 12 final assembly due to students flouting my rules for the day. Cross dressing, however, strikes me as harmless, a bit of fun.

    Sending them home was an over reaction, surely.

  24. There are many parents now choosing not to send their children to Xaviers, upon realising how narrow minded and hypocritical they are. So, good work Xaviers for being honest and revealing your true colours so parents now don’t get confused about what they are getting their children into. You’ve actually, ironically, done society a service here. I’m really happy your enrollments will now be steadily decreasing a result of your decisions. Catholic schools deserve to have exponentially less enrolments, each year. When you apologise and recompense for the history of the organisation you represent, then maybe, just maybe people can start to trust you again.

  25. Guys literally just calm down. As a student of Xavier, I can say that this is one of the best schools in the area, and if you have nothing good to say don’t say it. I know it was harmless fun, and the one in charge probably just over reacted, but don’t be going on and saying how horrible and out of time Xavier is. Echo has just blown this whole issue out of proportion. We weren’t banned from attending climate change strikes, the school just thought there were better ways to go about the issue instead of skipping class, people were free to go and attend the strikes. So please don’t say we were forbidden. And good on Mr Vella for not commenting, as the Echo has just blown this way out of proportion for such a stupid news article. Yes maybe administrators need to calm down a bit, this doesn’t mean any of them or school is bad. There are one of the best lot of people I have met, and I must say that the teachers here are some of the best and will go out of there way to help you and others. So all I’ll like to say is to those degrading Xaviers reputation, please don’t go commenting about how bad our school is. As you probably don’t understand how the positives aspects of Xavier our way the very few negatives. And to all those wishing to send there children here one day, please continue to wish that. As a current student of Xavier I can say that this is the best school to attend in the area

  26. I have no reason to comment on what is a matter between a school and its kids and their parents. It is saddening to read the bigotry against Christianity and Catholicism expressed in some of the comments, comments that are similar in their tone and ignorance – inclduing mockery of religious specific clothing – to those of Hanson and her supporters about Islam.

  27. Wow! Swapping uniforms sounds like harmless fun. What could possibly be wrong with that? Seriously, I don’t understand. Instead of declining to comment, could the teachers who made that call please explain why this innocent clothing swap on the last day of school was met with such a lack of good humour?


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