The gay school pupil was allegedly discriminated against by his teacher (Image: Pixabay)
A gay Grade 9 Soweto pupil has died of suicide, reportedly after he was mocked by a teacher because of his sexuality.
Eye Witness News (EWN) reports that the PJ Simelane secondary school learner was allegedly humiliated by the teacher during a speech presentation.
The pupil, who has not been identified, returned home after classes and then tragically took his own life.
Gauteng Department of Education Spokesperson Steve Mabona told EWN that the department has launched an investigation into the incident.
“There are allegations which we are ready to continue to investigate as a department. We will make sure we investigate those allegations and report at a later stage on the outcome thereof,” Mabona said.
In a statement, the school’s student movement, a sub-branch of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas), said it was horrified by the news.
“We will support the family in getting answers and justice for their child,” commented branch secretary Simphiwe Koketso Radebe, adding that the family “are not happy with the treatment they received from the principal of the school and the district officials.”
According to a 2016 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.
While there is limited information in South Africa, The Trevor Project, an American LGBTQ teen suicide prevention group, states that “LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers.” A 2020 Ghanaian study also found that LGBT adolescents reported a vastly higher rate of self-harm during the previous 12 months (44.6%) compared to heterosexual teens (16.2%).
In June, 14-year-old Mpho Falithenjwa in Orange Farm, South of Johannesburg took his own life after he was bullied for being gay.
If you are having thoughts of suicide please call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 at any time, day or night.