An 18-year-old girl has been expelled from a Midrand private school hostel over claims that she was found guilty of the “sexual harassment” of other girls in the school.
On Wednesday, The Star reported that a Blue Hills College grade 12 pupil was, on 20 January, found guilty of kissing a girl and of “sharing a bed” with another.
The two other girls were found guilty of “dating” and were temporarily suspended.
The expelled girl’s parents expressed their outrage to the newspaper, insisting that the punishment was harsh and unprocedural as they were told to fetch their child before a disciplinary was held.
Because she lives in Westonaria, almost 200 kilometres from the school, and her parents cannot afford to pay the daily travel costs, the pupil has not attended classes for over a week.
The school’s Director of Marketing Chief Ndlovu has insisted that the girl was not expelled because the incidents were between members of the same-sex.
“We are a Christian school and if one of the learners kiss – whether it’s a girl to girl, boy to boy, boy to girl or vice versa – we won’t tolerate that,” he told The Star.
He added that her expulsion “has nothing to do with her as a lesbian. It’s solely because of her total disregard of the school regulations”.
However, Ndlovu’s further statements suggest that homophobia could well have informed the school’s decision.
He commented that two of girl’s relatives had “confessed that the child is a lesbian” and then added that “If a particular learner has a sexual orientation problem, let her practise it at home. Just as boys may like boys. We won’t tolerate any sexual activity at the school”.
Mambaonline attempted to contact Ndlovu on his cell phone about the girl’s expulsion and his disturbing comments but was unsuccessful in reaching him.
Dawie Nel, Director of the Pretoria-based LGBT group OUT said that “Blue Hills needs to explain a few things”.
He asked “why there was there no opportunity for both sides to state their case; why the girl’s actions were equated to sexual harassment; and, if such behaviour is indeed barred by the school code of conduct, how has this been consistently applied to heterosexual kissing and ‘sharing of beds.’”
Nel also questioned why school representatives stated that homosexuality is a problem.
“We believe there is unfair discrimination and that this should be referred to the Equality Court and/or Human Rights Commission.
“Gay and lesbian learners have an incredibly tough time; they are bullied on many levels and as a result often attempt suicide. A good educator should know better than adding to discrimination that may cause severe trauma,” said Nel.
The expulsion and associated comments are the second homophobic incident concerning an educational institute in recent weeks.
The Creare Training Centre in Bloemfontein is under investigation after its 2013 prospectus stated that gay students who refuse to “change” will not be allowed to continue to study. It also claimed to be able to “convert” gay students.