Anti-homophobia posters hanging at Wellington High School have been ripped off the walls by Destiny Church members, students claim.
Drama students Phylli JasonSmith, 16, and Sonny Thomas, 17, say they were horrified to see church members taking down posters on Sunday which advertised a march against the church.
The march was organised to counter a Destiny Church demonstration which saw more than 7000 people converge on Parliament on Monday to protest against the Civil Union Bill and prostitution.
Phylli said students had hung about 15 posters around the school foyer and drama department, and were distraught when they saw them being pulled down.
Destiny pastor Campbell Bond said he did not know whether any of the churchgoers had pulled down the posters but would talk to church leaders about it later this week.
“I have certainly not authorised that. We’ll take them down if they are in the hall but we reinstate them as they were (when we leave). If it happened, we’re sorry for that.”
The church had rented the hall each Sunday for the past year, costing about $25,000 to $30,000.
School boards of trustees are responsible for maintaining and managing schools and can rent out halls to church and community groups at weekends.
Phylli said more than 600 students had signed a petition urging principal Prue Kelly to stop hiring the hall to the church because it promoted “hate and discrimination”.
Ms Kelly said she was aware of the petition but had not yet seen it as she had been away from school this week. She would meet students on Friday to discuss their concerns.
She was proud of her students for speaking out and being part of the counter rally. “They provided a wonderful lively contrast to the black-shirted, black booted marchers.”
Phylli hoped Ms Kelly would “see sense” and “choose values over money”.
“To think the school is doing this for the money sickens me greatly.”
Sonny, who has attended meetings of the school’s gay support group – School’s Out – in the past, said he felt violated by Destiny’s presence. Students at drama practices on Sundays were confronted by the church’s messages “blaring” over loudspeakers.
“This is my school and my environment. This is where students should feel safe.”
Students plan to attend the Destiny meeting this Sunday and invite members to attend a School’s Out meeting.
Pastor Bond said the students would be welcome at Destiny Church as long as they did not disrupt the service.