Consultations are currently underway on the Guidelines for the socio-educational Inclusion of diverse Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) in schools. A formal public engagement process is scheduled to take place once the current phase of consultations has been concluded. The Guidelines are still undergoing district consultations as recommended by the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) and will be published for public comment during 2023.
The focus of the discussions is the elimination of gender discrimination in all spheres of society and creating a socially conducive and welcoming environment in schools. The document under consultation also includes pertinent questions about inclusion of sexually and gender diverse children pertaining to school admission; curriculum; co-curricular programmes; uniforms; and ablution facilities.
The Department is probing relevant response mechanisms to ensure the constitutional obligation for socio-educational inclusion of sexual minorities in respect of school governance and School Governing Bodies (SGBs) across Provincial Education Departments (PEDs).
The document provides International and Regional Frameworks that create an enabling environment for the United Nations (UN); the African Union (AU); and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States to include diversity and inclusion in education and training. Constitutional and Education Policy mandates that protect children of diverse sexual and gender identities are also stipulated. The focus of the document is on how the education system supports schools to create safe and caring environments for all children to receive teaching and learning without discrimination or prejudice.
“Many stereotypes exist about how boys and girls should look, speak and behave,” explained Mr Likho Bottoman, Director for Social Cohesion and Equity in Education. “Early learning environments are important places to help children feel safe and accepted, whilst being encouraged to reach their full potential as every child has a gender identity, along with their personal understanding of how they perceive themselves. In addition, there is increased inequality in schools perpetuated by racism; xenophobia; gender stereotypes; harmful gender norms; and discrimination and related intolerances, including against vulnerable populations such as the LGBTQI+ communities. The Directorate has been conducting its first leg of stakeholder consultations on the Draft Protocol for the Elimination of Unfair Discrimination in Schools and Guidelines for the socio-educational inclusion of diverse SOGIESC. Diversity, in all its forms, should be embraced and entrenched by all actors of society in the ethos of every school community”.