The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has drafted the country’s first Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation guidelines for schools, a move greatly supported by the Democratic Alliance (DA).
The Draft Guidelines on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Public Schools of the Western Cape Education Department are designed to make schools in the province more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and others) students and their needs.
“The Western Cape Education Department has developed this guideline to sensitise all public schools and school communities to assist in creating an educational environment that does not discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including, gender, sex, sexual orientation, conscience, belief, culture and birth, among others,” writes the WCED.
“The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) will provide training to education districts, principals, governing bodies, educators and learners on creating awareness about gender diversity as a key focus area to promote positive attitudes to gender diversity and to include LGBTQIA+ learners without discriminating against them,” reads the draft.
Some points it includes to achieve better inclusion are:
– the allowance of unisex bathroom facilities
– teachers must treat learners disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity with great sensitivity and confidentiality. They are encouraged to refer the learner to a social worker, psychologist or any other organisation which deals with matters of this nature in order to facilitate counselling and assistance
– the possible introduction of gender-neutral uniforms and the allowance for deviations from the school’s uniform policy on cultural, medical and gender diversity grounds
– the creation of safe spaces and social diversity associations at schools
– the allowance that students may bring a partner of their choice to their school function/matric dance regardless of sexual orientation
DA MPP Lorraine Botha released a statement on June 30 in support of the guidelines.
“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,” she said.
“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,” she added.
There are currently no updates on when the national curriculum will be reviewed to support gender and sexual orientation awareness.
Read the full draft here: prov-gazette-Extra_8223-Extra-Draft-Gender-Identity-2020