Learners celebrating Pride Month at Cape school ’threatened, intimidated’

By Siphokazi Vuso Time of article published Jun 10, 2021

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ALLEGATIONS of homophobia are being investigated at DF Malan High School in Bellville after a group of learners, who were celebrating Pride Month at the school, claimed they were “surrounded, threatened and intimidated”.

A pupil, who would like to remain anonymous, said that on Monday they planned a gathering with all the learners of the LGBQTI+ community and those in support of the community during their breaktime.

“We decided we should all gather, eat our lunches together and just introduce ourselves to form better strength because sometimes we have quite a homophobic atmosphere.

“Most of the breaktime we were just sitting and a few boys showed up and they intimidated one girl by saying she took photos of them and she should delete it, but we haven’t confirmed that she did even take those photos. It was obvious they were trying to intimidate us. Their presence made more children gather and look at us, and they started screaming slurs at us,” the learner said.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said they noted the allegations with concern.

“The WCED has been made aware of the allegations of homophobia at DF Malan High School. We note them with concern, and have notified the District Office who will be conducting an investigation into what has transpired. The school is currently identifying the learners that were involved in the incident. In terms of the Constitution of the Republic of SA, the WCED respects the rights of all, including that of the LGBTQI+ community,” she said.

A petition calling on the school to issue a public apology to the affected learners has since been launched.

It claims that the school's principal prohibited further meetings of the LGBTQI+ community in the school.

“Two matric learners went to the deputy principal to report the situation, and he was apparently very understanding and said that it was unacceptable. The principal proceeded to speak to the learners about the situation. The principal, Mr Sias Conradie told them that they had been intimidated because they made themselves targets, and that celebrating Pride Month is not inclusive. They were told that any more meetings of LGBTQI+ students are prohibited,” the petition read.

According to a statement issued by the School Governing Body (SGB), the principal, in consultation with members of the SGB, decided not to grant the request for the celebration, as it could lead to “tension and division” within the school.

This observation was based on the “tension that learners are already experiencing in terms of the pandemic and experienced academic pressure”, the SGB said.

“The principal suggested to the learner that there may be other events, such as celebrating ‘youth month’, which is more inclusive. However, some learners decided to do a ‘sit-in’ during breaks. As the school anticipated, this led to a group of learners to make unacceptable remarks. These unacceptable remarks were tossed back and forth. The outcome was exactly what the school wanted to prevent.

“The school regrets the incident. The school will investigate learners who violated the school's code of conduct. Eduhelp, the school's Psychological Support Office is already busy supporting learners who have been traumatised by the incident,” the SGB said.

Cape Times

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