A 14-year-old lesbian girl in Port Elizabeth has missed weeks of classes and is too terrified to return to school after she was bullied because of her sexuality.
The Herald reported over the weekend that the Pearson High School pupil feared for her safety and had gone to the courts for a protection order in a bid to stop the harassment.
The teen is too afraid to use the school bathrooms and has been the subject of rumormongering. She said that some schoolmates had warned other pupils to not associate with her as they were at risk of being ‘raped’ by her because she is lesbian.
After she cut her long ponytail, with permission from the school, as a donation for wigs to be made for cancer survivors, rumours were spread that she was transgender.
The girl’s mother has reported the abuse to the Eastern Cape Department of Education which offered her daughter counselling but has been unable to end the bullying.
The family then approached the Port Elizabeth Magistrates’ Court which recently issued a protection order. The school was also instructed to allow the pupil to changes classes, although this has not ended the harassment.
The girl’s academic results are now suffering as she has not attended school since 4 April. The teen, who has plans to become a vet, has accused the school of not doing anything to protect her from the discrimination.
“I am terrified of going back. I am scared someone will hurt me because I am a lesbian,” she told the Herald. “I become anxious just thinking about school.” She added that she was sharing her story in order to help “protect other people.”
LGBT people often face discrimination and bullying in schools. According to a 2016 Love Not Hate report, 56% of LGBT South Africans surveyed said they’d experienced discrimination based on their sexuality of gender identity while attending school.