On Wednesday, Australian Conservatives senator and marriage equality opponent Cory Bernardi tweeted that a South Australian primary school hosting a "wear a dress" day to raise funds to get girls into school in Africa was a sign that "gender morphing is really getting absurd".
Bernardi linked to Craigburn Primary School's blog post on the matter where the school said children could wear a dress or casual clothes on the last day of term 3 for a gold coin donation to raise money to educate girls in Africa. The post linked to the Do It In A Dress website hosted by the One Girl charity organisation with a modest target of $900 in funding for the school.
However thanks to Cory Bernardi's attempt to call out the school for encouraging boys to wear a dress, the school has now raised over $200,000 (at the time of writing) to educate over 635 girls for a year in Africa.
Comedian Josh Thomas kicked off the campaign by donating $2,000 to the cause.
He pointed out that it wasn't exactly a new charity, either.
The CEO of the charity One Girl, Morgan Koegel, told ABC radio's RN Breakfast on Friday that the charity had been running the fundraiser for six years, with well over 100 schools taking part. She said it is up to each school to determine how to run the fundraiser, and not every school encourages boys to wear a dress to school.
"Craigburn really made it their own by deciding their mufti day at the end of semester is a 'do it in a dress' day," she said.
Koegel said she didn't understand Bernardi's concerns.
"I actually couldn't understand it at all when I read it. For me it was just so off-base in terms of what the campaign is all about and what we are trying to say.
"It has been going for six years. It really has nothing to do with the current debate, and we are wholly focused as an organisation on educating girls ... we are not weighing in on Australian political debate."
Koegel said she was focusing on the positives of Bernardi's concern, because in the last 24 hours the charity had had its biggest fundraising day ever.
"I hope that as much as the students feel like they're in the spotlight a bit, that they can be really proud they've been part of inspiring people to make a difference," she said.
Cory Bernardi told Sky News on Wednesday night that the "rainbow mafia" was donating to a worthy cause rather than the "yes" campaign.
"I'm happy about it because the money is going to a good cause. It stops them from donating to the 'yes' campaign."
That claim appeared to backfire, too.
As BuzzFeed News has reported, the "no" side in the postal survey debate has attempted to suggest that if same-sex marriage becomes law in Australia, then boys will be told they can wear a dress at school.
Previously, Little Britain star David Walliams was dragged into the debate because of controversy over a supermarket selling his book The Boy In A Dress.
It seems Bernardi doesn't have a problem with all men wearing dresses.
Josh Taylor is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Josh Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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