A Johannesburg girls’ school has denied claims that it banned pupils from bringing same-sex partners to their matric dance.
The mother of a girl who attends Jeppe Girls High School told the Sunday Times that her daughter was informed by a teacher last week that anyone who brought another girl to the dance would be escorted from the premises.
The pupil further claimed that earlier this year she had also been told by a teacher that the school would no longer allow same-sex partners to attend because of “inappropriate” behaviour in the past, such as “holding hands”.
The Sunday Times reported that another lesbian pupil was frightened into taking a boy to the dance because of the school’s allegedly homophobic stance.
Headmistress Dina Goncalves, however, denied these claims and insisted that the school would allow lesbian couples as long as their “partner behaves”. It’s not clear in the report what this “correct behaviour” entails.
Goncalves also suggested that the teacher’s comments may have been “misinterpreted”.
The un-named pupil was quoted by the newspaper as insisting that there was no miscommunication: “The teacher who told me we would not be allowed to bring a same-sex partner is now denying she said so. The school is now saying it was a misunderstanding and are acting nonchalant”
It is unconstitutional to bar school pupils from having same-sex partners at a matric dance. If the claims against the school are accurate, it is deeply disturbing that an educational institution appears not to be aware of their pupils’ constitutional rights or is prepared to flout these rights at their convenience.
Jeppe Girls High School has in recent years been named one of the top schools in Johannesburg. According to the school’s website, it aims “to create well-rounded, enquiring young women who will be able to think critically and engage constructively with others”.