Draft Guidelines on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Draft Guidelines on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Public Schools of the Western Cape Education Department.

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In a landmark judgment handed down in March 2017, the Equality Court for the District of Seshego in Limpopo Province, the South African Human Rights Commission instituted proceedings on behalf of a transgender secondary school learner.

The case arose from allegations of humiliation and harassment based on the gender identity of the learner that created a hostile and intimidating environment at the school. The learner testified that he identified himself to be a girl, dressed accordingly and used the girls’ toilet facilities. He did not complete matric and he further testified that he felt that the school system failed him in acknowledging his personal situation and providing a safe and comfortable environment.

The Court held that the principal of the school and the Limpopo Provincial Department of Education were and still are tasked to create a safe, protective, stress-free environment for learners. They are tasked to look after the well-being of the learners and they failed.

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.