The Gender Equality Commission (CGEs) call for the Department of Primary Education (DBE) to the existing draft national guidelines on: school uniforms the inclusion of a non-discriminatory principle may show a growing resistance to gender stereotypes, according to activists.
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders and Intersex (LGBTI) activist Aisha Moerane said the introduction of gender-neutral uniforms for students and the transition to unisex uniforms was one way to protect the younger generation from gender-based stereotypes.
Moerane said that when they were growing up, girls were required to wear skirts, which affected them mentally because of gender norms that convey the rules assigned to a particular gender, such as how to behave in public, what role they play in society and “guidelines” on how to socialize.
“I wasn’t able to take everyone I was into what I was doing because I felt so uncomfortable, if out of place and I lost my sense of self and identity in the rules that were forced upon me said Moerane.
They also said that having a gender neutral uniform would allow people to express themselves fully, without any pressure to be or look a certain way, while giving them a sense of freedom, liberation and creativity.
“A gender neutral uniform allows everyone to feel comfortable and not be limited by outdated gender norms.”
One parent, Kgomotso More, said it is so important to take care of children who identified with a different gender than the one they were born in. More said her own children were happier when she began to respect them for who they were.
The commission said that according to a study by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, SA schools were still places of social and gender discrimination and exclusion, impacting access to education for LGBTI students.
“The national school uniform design guidelines do not adequately address this issue,” it said.
“Existing draft guidelines reinforce the sexist and discriminatory segregation of ‘girls and boys’, leaving little room for LGBTI students to wear uniforms that match their gender expression.”