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The father who protested brilliantly because his daughter’s school had traveled to 1968

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It is 2017 and there are still schools segregating their students according to gender. That must have been, at least, Steve Callaghan, the Australian father of a twelve-year-old girl, when he learned that his daughter was going to attend an activity exclusively for girls. The matter seemed so surreal to Callaghan that he decided to write to the director of the center raising his complaints.

Thanks to a keen sense of humor, the letter spread through networks, and became a small viral hit. Rather than raise his terms enraged or outraged, Callaghan chose to establish a very funny and very intelligent fiction to define what had happened at school: a journey through time. “When my daughter went to school in the morning it was 2017, but when she returned in the evening it was 1968”, read the letter, which can be read in its entirety here.

Apparently, the girl was going to participate in an activity segregated by the teachers and the administration of the school. The girls would attend a makeup course, exclusively female, at the municipal bookstore, while the children would be taken to a local hardware store. Since her daughter wants to be an engineer and was excited about the possibility of going to the hardware store, the segregation caused the consternation of Callaghan, 51, as old as to remember worse times.

Here is the complete letter:

Dear Headmistress,

I must call your attention to a very serious incident that took place yesterday at your school where my daughter Ruby is studying Year 6 (the Australian equivalent to 2nd year of Secondary).

When Ruby left school in the morning it was 2017, but when he returned home in the afternoon it was 1968.

I know this is the case because Ruby informed me that the “girls” in Year 6 were going to go to the school bookstore to comb and make up during the afternoon of Monday, while the “guys” were going to go to the hardware store.

Could I look in the buildings of the school for a gap in the space-time continuum? Maybe there is a Flow Capacitor broken and hidden somewhere in the girls’ bathroom.

I hope that this matter will be reviewed and that my daughter and other girls in the school will be returned to this millennium in which school activities are not clearly divided according to gender.

Sincerely, Stephen Callaghan.

Both Stephen and his daughter live in the rural village of Wongarbon, north of Sydney, in the very conservative interior Australia. “My reaction was disappointment,” he explained in Bored Panda the day after his letter went viral. Callaghan mimicked the disappointment of his daughter, whose passion for engineering led, of course, to be more interested in a hardware store full of exciting mechanical tackle than a makeup and hairdressing workshop. To make matters worse, only the boys would enjoy a later barbecue.

“I feel that the school has a responsibility when it comes to breaking gender divisions,” he added. For both him and his wife, he says, the education of his daughters in full freedom and without sexist restrictions is paramount. Hence the letter, quickly viralized on Twitter for two reasons: both the ironic tone of it and the outrageous matter. For many parents in the world, segregations by gender can only be a result of the past, even if they still exist in the present.

The father who protested brilliantly because his daughter's school had traveled to 1968
The father who protested brilliantly because his daughter’s school had traveled to 1968

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