Former students of Brighton Secondary College have reportedly sued their school after they alleged they were subjected to antisemitic bullying. The group also accused the school’s principal of endorsing Nazis in speeches and calling Jewish people “subhuman”.
Per reports in The Guardian, the students claimed they endured years of bullying, discrimination and negligence at the state-run school in Melbourne’s south-east. They alleged the bullying — which happened between 2013 and 2020 — was both verbal and physical, and came from fellow students and teachers alike.
Barrister Adam Butt — who is representing the group of former students — reportedly told the Federal Court on Wednesday that students claimed they were subjected to Nazi salutes and swastika graffiti was seen scrawled on desks and students’ hands.
It’s also reportedly been alleged that the school’s principal Richard Minack gave speeches about his father and grandfather, who were connected to the German army during the second world war and Adolf Hitler‘s reign. He allegedly referred to Jewish people as “subhuman” and evil at least once.
It is understood that the state of Victoria is also being sued as part of the lawsuit. The group of Brighton Secondary alumni has accused it of condoning the behaviour of the staff and students.
“Four out of five of my clients had to leave Brighton part way through a school year because the hostile school environment was intolerable,” Butt submitted at the hearing.
Members of the group reportedly alleged they had knives pulled on them by other students, a teacher wouldn’t let one of them wear a kippah or yarmulke and another was made to take off his Star of David necklace. One alum claimed they weren’t allowed to do a project on Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s former prime minister.
Barrister Butt claimed that the group felt like they couldn’t be openly Jewish at school and the years of mistreatment is a breach of their human rights, the Religious Discrimination Act and violated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children.
Per reports in The Age, one of the former students — identified as 21-year-old Liam Arnold-Levy — said he complained several times about the bullying to the school’s admin team but no support was provided.
He alleged “Heil Hitler” was graffitied on his school locker and the Star of David was drawn on his books. He also told the court he had coins thrown at him (which refers to an antisemitic stereotype that Jews are stingy) and he was called names like “dirty Jew” and “vermin”.
“The harassment happened every day — it was humiliating,” he claimed.
“They wrote down what I told them and said they’d give it to the principal. Nothing ever happened.”
The school has denied it tolerated any antisemitic culture from students or staff.
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