Equal Education (EE) and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) are concerned over the Western Cape Department of Education’s (WCED) Draft Guidelines on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Public Schools.

The civil rights organisations believe the guidelines, in their current form, will not properly protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ learners. 

“We want to emphasise the importance of a document that can provide schools with direction on being inclusive, but are very worried that, despite the previous detailed feedback that we submitted to the WCED, various drafts of these Guidelines have not fixed the critical flaws,” say the organisations.

Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre say earlier versions of the department’s draft guidelines were full of highly problematic language.

“The latest version of the draft Guidelines, shared last week with a small number of academics and organisations who previously submitted comments, have addressed some of the problems, but EE and the EELC’s bigger concerns have remained unchanged,” they say.

Problem areas identified are the documents’ failure to recognise and protect learners’ Constitutional rights; failure to put strong obligations on schools and create processes that protect learners; failure to encourage schools to take proactive steps towards being inclusive and failure to centre learners and use affirming language.

The Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre submitted a third round of feedback to the WCED on Wednesday, which the organisations say, points out the problems and how the guidelines can be improved.