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Local LGBTQI+ organisations fight for trans learner to wear boy’s uniform

The fight for a transgender Western Cape learner to wear a boy’s uniform continues after he was forced to wear the girl’s uniform due to school policy.

Don't Say Gay

Everything you need to know about Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Image via Unsplash

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and local LGBTQ+ organisations have been in a tug of war with a Western Cape school to allow a 16-year-old transgender learner to return to school wearing a boy’s uniform.

The governing body of Strand High School has refused to authorise the learner permission to wear a boy’s uniform. 


The SAHRC’s commissioner Chris Nissen told Sunday Times the boy, who previously identified as a girl, was forced to wear a pair of green trousers as part of the girl’s uniform. 

Nissen confirmed that he would accompany the learner to school on 2 August when he returns to school to write his mid-year exams. The Grade 11 learner was unable to write his mid-year exams due to being admitted to a clinic for anxiety and depression. 

Western Cape education department’s spokesperson Bronagh Hammond confirmed the governing body’s refusal for the boy to wear tracksuit pants which is the uniform for the other boys.  


According to the Sowetan, an open letter was e-mailed to Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer on 9 July about discrimination faced by LGBTQI+ learners in schools across the province. 

A portion of the letter read:

“These schools are violating the human rights of pupils, undermining their wellbeing and obstructing their education, LGBTQI+ pupils are experiencing many forms of bullying harassment, abuse, discrimination and systematic violence in schools.” 

A total of 26 signatures were on the open letter, noting local LGBTQI+ organisations, the Triangle project, Legal Resources Center, Out, and Sexual & Reproductive Justice Coalition. 


The learner’s mother said she asked Strand High School permission to allow her son to wear the boys’ uniform, but the school gave her a strange response. However, the school did agree to call the learner by his new name and allowed him to use the female teachers’ bathroom.

“They said he couldn’t wear the boy’s uniform because of the school policy and because someone else may also come with a similar request.”

According to the learner’s mother, the school’s governing body was in the process of drawing up a new policy and the current policy would stand until the new policy is approved. 

 Bronagh Hammond further mentioned that guidelines on gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools in the Western Cape were to be released on 26 July. 

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