South Africa, 13 June 2015
Thirty-nine years ago, on June 16 1976, young learners from Soweto organised a national resistance campaign against apartheid. The racially segregated system meant that Black students were subjected to an inferior education system and Afrikaans was enforced as a language of instruction. Equally, young people witnessed how their families suffered under the apartheid system. June 16 1976 was the turning point against the apartheid state.
Now, we have a different generation of South African learners. They are called the post-Mandela kids, meaning that they were born in the 1990s or later. Despite being born into a democracy, young Lesbians, Gay men, Trans* and Intersex learners face immense obstacles in accessing challenges in their school environments. Often, schools enforce gender roles and stereotypes by instructing learners to wear school uniforms that are aligned to being female or male at birth. Young learners face immense stress caused by other learners,as well teachers who bully and harass them, based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Ignorance is rife at schools, and national government departments have not developed policies to reduce stigma and to ensure greater safety and privacy at schools.
This year, Iranti, along with LGBTI organisations within Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West, are speaking out against homophobia and transphobia at schools. They are all actively calling on the national education department to prioritise these issues at a national level.
Together with our partners, we have developed a series of poster messages that we aim to distribute at schools. Ongoing meetings are being held among learners and educators.
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