PRESS RELEASEPROPOSED NEW SCHOOL POLICY SETS WESTERN CAPE GOVERNMENT ON COLLISION COURSE WITH PARENTS - 23 June 2020
PRESS RELEASE BY CAUSE FOR JUSTICE: 23 JUNE 2020
* FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *
SUBJECT: PROPOSED NEW SCHOOL POLICY SETS WESTERN CAPE GOVERNMENT ON COLLISION COURSE WITH PARENTS
A new draft policy of the Western Cape Education Department (the WCED) – the draft Guidelines for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Public Schools of the WCED (the Guidelines) – poses a real threat to best interests – the fundamental rights, health and well-being – of learners who attend public schools in the Western Cape.[i]
Contending for “the best interests of children”[ii], human rights organisation, Cause for Justice (CFJ),[iii] delivered its written commentary on the Guidelines (including drafting proposals and questions) to the WCED on Friday, 19 June 2020.
Need for public participation
CFJ has stressed the importance and necessity of public hearings to the WCED – the issues addressed by the Guidelines have a potentially far-reaching impact. Without hearings/public participation processes at community-level, the WCED will fail to facilitate adequate public participation and meaningful engagement with the people of the Western Cape – the very people whose children will be directly affected by the Guidelines.[iv]
The best interests of children
According to the WCED, it developed the Guidelines to prevent discrimination in schools.[v] However, upon closer inspection, the Guidelines’ content reveals various serious concerns.
Controversial ideological content
The Guidelines include an ideologically-biased (i.e. neither scientifically supported nor value neutral) concept about the nature of human existence, which risks the WCED’s commitment to state neutrality and makes the Guidelines and the schools it will apply to vulnerable to being misused to advance a particular ideological or political agenda for social change. In the promotion of this agenda, sadly, children in need of real care and protection – learners struggling with gender confusion/dysphoria – are pawns in a social experiment driven by proponents of radical gender ideology / transgender activists.
Detrimental impact on parent-child relationships
Gender identity and sexual orientation are personal, sensitive issues. Yet, the proposals contained in the Guidelines has the effect of at best interfering with and at worst severing parent-child relationships in the most intimate matters concerning the child. This subversion of parental rights and authority cannot be constitutionally justified.
Unfair discriminatory treatment
The Guidelines disclose a lack of concern for learners who do not identify as “transgender” or as “LGBTQI+”. It also shows a lack of respect for the rights of school staff. The rights and interests of transgender learners are consistently prioritised above and at the expense of others, and most alarmingly at the expense of the best interests of other learners’ privacy, safety, fair treatment and fundamental rights.
Unlawful intrusion into decision-making purview schools and the national executive
In post-Apartheid South Africa, school education was decentralised. Parents – through their majority on each individual school’s governing body – now are the effective final authority on most matters in the life of the school. The Guidelines undermine this important safeguard that was implemented to ensure that the discriminatory and ideological state interference of the past would not be replicated in democratic South Africa.
Guidelines also proposes interference with the school curriculum – which falls within the sole purview of the National Department of Basic Education (DBE).
CFJ has requested the WCED to respond to its request for adequate and wide-ranging public engagement at community-level, its drafting proposals for the rectification of the Guidelines and its list of questions on important issues that need clarification.
CFJ is committed to promoting and protecting the best interest of children – especially from the harmful impact of controversial, unscientific and experimental ideologies and political agendas – and to this end, endeavours to as far as possible come alongside and work with government.
[PRESS RELEASE ENDS]
For further queries, contact CFJ at:
Tel: 074 355 0775
[i] The Guidelines implicate the intersection of Section 28 (Children) with Section 29 (Education) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
[ii] According to Section 28(2) of the Constitution, “[a] child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.”
[iii] Cause for Justice (CFJ) is an a-political, non-partisan human rights organisation that exists to act in the public interest and in the interest of justice by promoting and protecting constitutional rights, freedoms and obligations in South Africa.
CFJ has also been actively engaging with the national Department of Basic Education (DBE) and other stakeholders in relation to the proposed roll-out of state-sponsored Comprehensive Sexuality Education learning materials in all public schools over the past two years.
[iv] CFJ proposed to the WCED that to the extent that intervention measures in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic create limitations on engagements in physical/geographical locations across the province, public hearings can be facilitated for the various geographical communities by way of virtual platforms.
[v] According to its call for public comments on the Guidelines, the WCED developed the Guidelines to “sensitise all public schools and school communities to assist in creating an educational environment that does not discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including, gender, sex, sexual orientation, conscience, belief, culture and birth, among others.”