Outrageous! Eastern Cape school outs 38 pupils as lesbians

Principal Kosani meeting President Zuma

It appears that some South African educators remain clueless about basic human rights and their constitutional obligations.

In another educational LGBTI outrage, it’s been reported that an Eastern Cape school has forced 38 pupils to come out to their parents as lesbians.

According to the Daily Dispatch, the debacle apparently started when two girls were discovered kissing in the toilets at Ulwazi High School in Mdantsane.

The principal, Nomampondomise Kosani, then somehow “identified” 36 other girls as lesbians and ordered them and their parents to return to the school together.

Once the learners were assembled in front of their parents, guardians and teachers, she allegedly ordered them to point out their girlfriends.

The incident could put the girls in danger. The newspaper said that there were reports that some of the parents went home “to berate their children and force them to ‘stop’ being gay – with violence if necessary”.

“I have heard that there are parents who are going to beat up their children for being gay,” revealed a parent. Another commented: “As long as she lives under my roof, she is going to become who I want her to be”.

Kosani refused to discuss the matter with the Dispatch. One of the learners, a Grade 10 pupil, told the newspaper that the girls’ rights had been violated.

“We were made to feel that being a lesbian is a crime,” she said. “If pupils were breaking the rules by kissing in the bathroom then they should have been called to order. Everyone should not have been punished.”

A spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Education Department said that the principal’s actions were unconstitutional and that it would investigate the matter.

Cameron Cordell, Acting Executive Director at the Port Elizabeth-based OUTology Network, described the incident as “absolutely disgusting”.

He told Mambaonline that despite constitutional protections, “the LGBTI community, and particularly women within the community, face physical and emotional violence on a daily basis”.

Cordell said that, “one of the reasons for this is the lack of education and support around LGBTI issues within schools, and, as can be seen here, active homophobia on the part of those meant to safeguard the rights of their charges.”

He extended an invitation to Ulwazi High School and the Department of Education, offering to run sensitisation courses free of charge with educators and students “to ensure that no other student will have to go through such abuse in future. This violation of LGBTI rights cannot stand.”

In a number of incidents in recent years, lesbian pupils in particular have been victimised by school staff. Last month, a lesbian learner was expelled from Ndala High School in KwaZulu-Natal for refusing to wear a skirt.

According to a recent Love Not Hate report on LGBT discrimination in South Africa, homophobia in schools is rampant: 56% of young people surveyed said they’d experienced discrimination based on their LGBT status at school.

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