A vital conference on challenging homophobia and transphobia in South African schools is to be held in Johannesburg on September 6 and 7.

The event is being co-hosted by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (Gala) and the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg.

Gala’s Anthony Manion told Mambaonline that recent research by the organisation has shown that homophobia and transphobia are serious problems in South African schools.

“LGBTI learners, as well as learners who are thought to be LGBTI, are experiencing high levels of homophobic and transphobic victimisation, and teachers often collude in these violations by turning a blind eye,” he said.

The conference aims to provide an opportunity for scholars, practitioners, activists, and policy and public-opinion makers to discuss the scope and impact of homophobia and transphobia in education and present new research and works-in-progress. Participants will also share information on good practice in programming and policy to address the issue.

“We need to develop concrete actions to make schools safe for all learners, including LGBTI learners. Some organisations and researchers have done important work in this area, but there is still a lack of recognition within the education environment that this is a serious problem. There is also not enough information on how best to address the causes and effects of the problem,” said Manion

A 2011 report on Queer Youth in South Africa, commissioned by Atlantic Philanthropies, concluded “that schools are largely heteronormative environments, where little is being done to address the needs of LGBTIs – mainly due to ignorance on the part of education authorities and individual educators, and in spite of an enabling environment”.

Those interested in registering to attend the conference or submitting abstracts can do so online here. The deadline for both is August 3rd, 2012.

For more information, please contact Gabriel Hoosain Khan at +27 11 717 1963 or

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