Limpopo LGBTIQ+ Learner Bullied and Denied Education Over Gender Identity


Another distressing incident has come to light concerning the alleged mistreatment of an LGBTIQ+ learner who has been bullied and denied the right to education due to their gender identity and expression.

Lucky Matlebjane, a transgender teenager in Limpopo, was compelled to leave school because of queerphobic bullying and their refusal to conform to traditional male attire.

According to reports from SABC News, Matlebjane, 19, claims that they faced ostracism and prejudice from both fellow students and teachers at Dinakanyane Secondary School in Ga-Seroka, situated around 115 km south of Polokwane.

Matlebjane asserts that they endured constant harassment and pressure to adhere to the school’s binary gender dress code, requiring them to present as male. Additionally, they were accused of bringing shame to their family.

Matlebjane shared their anguish and trauma with the news channel, stating, “This is very bad to me, because every night when I go to sleep, I think of the drama and the bad things people say about me. I sometimes think of killing myself.”

Investigations and Ongoing Discrimination

The South African Human Rights Commission and the Limpopo Education Department have launched investigations into the matter, expressing alarm over the unconstitutional discrimination faced by the learner.

Instances of bullying and discrimination in schools are regrettably common in South Africa. In October last year, one such incident tragically led to the suicide of 12-year-old Sibusiso Mbatha, who took his own life due to bullying by a teacher.

An independent investigation revealed evidence of emotional and homophobic abuse by the deputy principal at his Gauteng school, along with negligence from other teachers in addressing the issue according to established procedures and protocols.

Calls for Inclusion and Policy Revision

Despite these challenges, the national Department of Basic Education has yet to implement its leaked draft guidelines for the inclusion of LGBTIQ+ learners in schools, facing opposition from conservative religious groups and political parties.

Furthermore, it remains uncertain how many schools and education departments in South Africa are aware of or implementing the directives of an October 2023 report by the SA Human Rights Commission in the Eastern Cape.

The report stipulated that learners must be permitted to wear school uniform items aligned with their gender identity and that gender-neutral uniform options must be made available.

The commission mandated national and provincial education departments to revise their uniform policies and guidelines within six months.

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