Support for transgender pupil
Johannesburg - School children must be supported in their right to a preferred sexual orientation, the Eastern Cape department of education said on Wednesday.
"There is an urgent need to advance a transformation agenda that addresses all matters of common social and cultural understanding... The Constitution is the supreme guiding document," said the department's superintendent general, Modidima Mannya.
His statement follows a report in the Daily Dispatch on December 5 of a transgender pupil at Cambridge high school in East London who was forced to leave the school because he was not allowed to wear trousers.
Mannya met with the school's principal, Grassey Buitendag, on Wednesday.
"Born a girl, the Cambridge teenager - who now identifies himself as a boy - tried to swap his school skirt for grey trousers but was not permitted to do," the newspaper reported.
The teen is planning to leave the school at the end of the year to join another institution. "This after the school told his mother that if the teen could not adhere to school rules and code of conduct, the parent should 'consider the option of an educational institution where the wearing of a uniform is not part of the tradition of that particular institution'," the report said.
Mannya apologised for any hurt that may have been caused by the incident and said that arrangements had been made "in the best interest of the child in the current circumstances".
He did not go into further detail about what the arrangements were.
He said the "right of this child to her preferred sexual orientation" must be asserted and that other children in similar circumstances must be supported.
Recommendations would be made to the executive council responsible for education on a process required to address transformation issues in schools, he said.
The term "transgender" was the state of a person’s "gender identity" not matching one's "assigned sex", and gender talked more to the role one chose to take in society as opposed to sexual organs.