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

south-africa-flagThe Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says that transgender students should be allowed to choose between the school uniforms they feel most 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”