Durban – The Department of Basic Education believes its proposal to install unisex toilets in schools has been taken out of context.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga dismissed a petition calling for the idea to be scrapped “silly”, adding that it was based on hearsay.
Speaking on Jacaranda FM, he said people should wait for communication from the department.
“We have never imposed anything on anyone, we’ve always been transparent. There’s no need to put together a petition. There will be a time to submit written comments to the government in terms of how people feel,” he said.
The petition opposing the proposal has already garnered more than 73 000 signatures.
The petition, started by Rudayba Rasool, aims to reach 75 000 signatories.
“The Department of Basic Education is proposing mix gender toilets. How do we protect our children who need to be safe at schools? Toilets are private and suggesting that girls and boys share toilets will bring about many social ills. As a responsible parent, I cannot condone or approve this. Schools are supposed to be a safe haven for all,” Rasool said.
The African Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Front Plus have expressed concerns over proposed changes.
The proposal includes:
– Schools will soon be required to provide “genderless/unisex toilets and changing rooms”.
– Individual stalls, redesigned bathroom signs and more cubicles are touted as a solution.
– Teachers are to be told they must avoid gender-segregating pupils by splitting classes, lines or groups into “boys and girls“.
– Gender-neutral uniforms must also be made available to all pupils who require them“
– “Deadnaming” will also be outlawed. This means a student identifying as a different gender cannot be called by their previous name.
Mahlangu said the department’s view was that all schools should make learners feel welcome at all times.