Monday, July 09, 2007

What the Hell?!

Hell of a name gets boy banned from Australian school

A boy called Hell has been barred from enrolling in a Catholic school in Australia because his surname jarred with its religious teachings, the child's father said Monday.

The youngster's dad, 45-year-old Alex Hell, has expressed outrage after the primary school in the southern city of Melbourne allegedly refused to admit his son, Max.

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"We are victims of our name," said Hell, whose name is of Austrian origin.

"We're quite devastated by the whole thing," the Catholic father of three told the Australian Associated Press.

"It's 2007, not 1407 -- it's not the Dark Ages."

Hell said that at one point he offered to change his son's name to his wife's maiden name of Wembridge, a suggestion that he said was welcomed by the principal of St Peter the Apostle primary school, Michael McGrath.

But he changed his mind, and was then told that Max would not be able to attend the school, Hell said.

School officials later had a change of heart, but Hell now says there is no way he will ever enrol his son there.

"The school has turned around and said Max can go there, but why would you want to go there after being victimised?" he said.

"I'd rather go to another school -- we had no problem with the public school but we just wanted to further Max's education," Hell said, adding that he would move his family to the nearby city of Geelong and put Max in another school.

St Peter the Apostle School said it had offered Max a place and confirmed that Hell had offered to change his child's name.

"The issue of a change of surname of the child was an initiative of the parents which they believed would assist the child in the transition of schools," the school said in a statement.

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"The school is working with the family in the best interests of the child," the statement added.