A primary school's "Do It In A Dress" fundraiser has blown past its modest $900 target to raise more than $200,000 after an Australian Conservatives senator labelled it "absurd".
The money will now go towards helping more than 674 girls in developing countries gain access to an education after making $201,520 above their goal following Senator Cory Bernardi's publicly lamented as "gender morphing" the school's offer for students and staff to wear a dress for charity.
Just to put things in perspective -- the kids at South Australia's Craigburn Primary School initially set a goal of helping three girls by asking staff and students to help raise $900. Now they have made $201,520 above their goal.
Cory Bernardi -- who is currently engaged in a culture war over same sex marriage -- blasted the initiative as "absurd" and "gender morphing", asking when casual dress day had become "wear a dress to school day".
"In the midst of a debate about the safe school gender ideology program, the redefinition of marriage and attempts to de-genderise society it seems this school is playing into a political cause rather than an educational one," the senator told the Adelaide Advertiser.
Speaking on Sky News, he said that encouraging boys at the school to wear a dress was "flat out weird", adding that he was thankful the donations were going to a charity rather than the 'Yes' campaign for same sex marriage.
However, the school's principal Paul Luke clarified the issue, telling The Project that the children had been the ones to come up with the fundraising idea, rejecting assertions by Bernardi that the fundraiser was championing any political causes.
"There's always something that's happening in society, we could link anything to anything and, most importantly a lot of this decision making is being driven by kids and they certainly haven't considered those other things that are in the political arena at the moment and nor they should," he said.
In less than 48 hours since Bernardi's tweet, $170,133 has been raised -- and the number is continuing to climb every second.
Comedians, fellow politicians and the Twitterverse were quick to weigh in on the issue, defending the "tiny heroes" of the school and praising their efforts.
THEY WERE TRYING TO RAISE $900. What a bunch of tiny heroes. https://t.co/biTy8wcaTc— Josh Thomas 🌈 (@JoshThomas87) September 21, 2017
"These kids are being bullied by Cory for trying to help underprivileged girls," actor and comedian Josh Thomas said.
South Australia's Education minister Susan Close told Bernardi to "get a sense of humour and perspective and leave our kids out of politics".
It's a fundraiser for girls' education in Africa the kids thought up. Get a sense of humour & perspective & leave our kids out of politics.— Susan Close MP (@susan_close) September 20, 2017
Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday night, Bernardi said he was "happy" that people were donating to the cause because "it stops the money going to the 'Yes' [same sex marriage] campaign".
Many who have donated to the campaign have made a point of thanking Bernardi for bringing it to their attention.