Education
Transgender students allowed to choose between uniforms, says Education Department

Transgender students

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says that transgender students should be allowed to choose between the school uniforms they feel most comfortable in.

According to a report by EWN, Bronagh Hammond of the WCED has urged all schools in the province to embrace diversity and inclusivity by allowing transgender students the right to wear the uniform they feel more comfortable in.

“Transgender students need to be comfortable” – WCED

The WCED has requested that all schools under its administration revise codes of conduct to protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) learners from discrimination and bullying.

Hammond explained that while only one Cape Town school had already adopted the revised policy, more schools across the region were expected to diversify as the movement gathered momentum, saying:

“Student Governing Bodies (SGB) are dealing with this issue on a case-by-case basis. So far, we have only heard from Westerford High School in Rondebosch, where transgender students are allowed to change uniforms.”

Challenging Homophobic Bullying in Schools

A recent report by News24 cites a booklet published in 2015 entitled Challenging Homophobic Bullying in Schools which is aimed at guiding teachers, learners and SGB members to promote an inclusive school environment.

The booklet states that learners who experience homophobic bullying are more likely to experience higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide:

“This silence and invisibility are a distinctive aspect of homophobic bullying. Young people who experience homophobic bullying may:

  • Have higher levels of absenteeism and truancy and be less likely to enter higher/further education
  • Be more likely to contemplate self-harm/suicide and have low self-esteem
  • Show signs of physical ill health
  • Underachieve academically or leave school early
  • Engage in risk-taking behaviours, such as unprotected sex”

Hammond explained that the book serves as a tool to create a diverse and inclusive learning environment, saying:

“This is not only about transgender learners, it’s about the LGBTQI community. The booklet lists a number of anti-bullying strategies.

No learner should be discriminated on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”

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