File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Western Cape lauded for being the first to introduce LGBTQ+ guidelines for schools

By IOL reporter Time of article published Jul 1, 2020

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Cape Town – The move by the provincial Department of Education (WCED) to draft the country’s first Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Guidelines has been hailed by the DA in the Western Cape.

MPP Lorraine Botha said in a statement on Wednesday that "these guidelines will fill the gap left by the National Department of Basic Education, which sadly references LGBTQ+ people only twice across 38 textbooks in nine school subjects".

If passed, the WCED’s guidelines will allow for the Department to train pupils, management, teachers and governing bodies on the principles of gender and sexual diversity.

Botha believes schools have for too long been a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming students, noting these incidents: 16-year-old Liyabona Mabishi being stabbed 13 times and murdered in Khayelitsha for his sexuality; a Robertson schoolteacher being assaulted by parents for his sexual orientation; and recently a pastor visiting De Kuilen High School in Cape Town told students that gay individuals are bound for hell.

“The provincial department’s gender identity and sexual orientation guidelines are a landmark towards achieving proper understanding and respect for LGBTQ+ rights at our schools in the province. 

"With the rise of homophobia, transphobia and gender-based violence, these guidelines will fill the gap left by the National Department of Basic Education, which sadly references LGBTQ+ people only twice across 38 textbooks in nine school subjects,” Botha said. 

“The policy aims to sensitise public schools and the education environment to LGBTQ+ rights, in the promotion of a more inclusive approach and progressive realisation of our Constitutional rights. 

"In the Western Cape, transgender students are already the first in the country permitted to select the school uniform in line with their gender-identity. The new draft guidelines take this one step further – in the right direction.” 

Highlights of the draft policy guidelines include: 

* Sensitivity and confidentiality for students deciding to reveal their sexual orientation, with support offered by social workers or psychologists.

* Allowing for unisex bathroom facilities.

* Careful consideration for LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming students during school excursions.

* Requirement that all students may bring a partner of their choice to school functions and matric dances, regardless of sexual orientation.

* Recommendations for safe spaces and social diversity associations at schools.

* Encouragement for sexual orientation, gender identity, homophobia and transphobia. 

“I have written to the national Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, requesting an update on her department’s plans for updating the national curriculum to be in line with gender and sexual orientation awareness. 

"It has been over a year since her department set up a committee of about 100 experts for this purpose, but we are not aware of any developments to date.” 

The DA in the Western Cape will continue to utilise all means possible for achieving the rights of our learners, regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation.

IOL

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