Top Cape Town boys’ school mired in discrimination claims

    SACS school in Cape Town (Pic: Facebook)

SACS, a leading school in Cape Town, has been accused of allowing an environment conducive to homophobia and racism.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of former pupils claims that the all-boys’ high school has stood by for decades as a culture of discrimination took root.

In a media statement, the SACS Anti-Discrimination Collective alleges that those who’ve been affected include mixed-race pupils, LGBTQ individuals and members of the Muslim community.

“At SACS, the discrimination has ranged from mixed-heritage individuals being called ‘h**not’, others called ‘k**fir’, individuals from LGBTQIA+ groups named ‘m*ffies’, victims being beaten when confronting racists, mixed-heritage individuals being mocked as ‘products of rape’ [and] Islamophobic sentiments,” said Anti-Discrimination Collective spokesperson Alexander McLeod.

He also claimed that a cafeteria was made non-halaal without consulting the SACS Muslim community and that while the school has  honoured SACS Old Boys who fought in wars after World War 2 it had done “nothing to commemorate the people who fought in the South African liberation struggle…”

The group is demanding that the school governing body (SGB) be disbanded for its failure to take action to reverse the alleged culture of intolerance. SACS was founded in 1829 and is the oldest high school in South Africa.

In response, the chairperson of the SACS SGB, Dr Kerrin Begg, admitted that the school sometimes reflected the bigotry prevalent in broader society.

“SACS High School is a reflection of the society in which we live, and is therefore not immune to the challenges relating to institutional and societal discrimination,” said Begg, reports News24. “Our school must always strive for what is just, fair and equitable. SACS must be a school where young men of any race or sexual orientation feel welcome, are nurtured and developed to enable them to reach their full potential.”

Begg added that an independent task team had been established by SACS to address the allegations. McLeod, however, told CapeTalk’s John Maytham that he does not believe the task team is sufficiently transparent and representative of all stakeholders and constituents.

LGBTIQ+ students often face discrimination and bullying in schools in South Africa. According to a 2016 Love Not Hate report by OUT LGBT Well-being, 56% of LGBT South Africans surveyed said they’d experienced discrimination based on their sexuality or gender identity while attending school.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) recently published what are said to be the country’s first draft Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Guidelines for schools.

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