South African School Youth in Favour of the Teaching and Learning of “Queerness” and about the "Other"– A Contrast to Current literature

  • Henry James Nichols University of the Free State
Keywords: Heteronormativity, Heterosexism, Othering, Life orientation, Queer


Heteronormativity and heterosexism are pervasive in the South African society where much of the Queer youth face several challenges in South African schools: hurtful name-calling, being disregarded, denigrated, and discriminated against, which often develops into physical and verbal forms of violence. South African Policy and Legislation varying from the country’s Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the South African Schools Act (SASA), and Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), affirm sexual orientation and gender as grounds for non-discrimination on equality. Nevertheless, even with these progressive policies and legislations, South African schools remain heteronormative and heterosexist spaces. A qualitative method, a case study methodology was adopted, and data was collected employing semi-structured interviews. A number of eleven grade ten high school youth participated in this study. Some of the key findings revealed that: Education around issues of sexuality and gender diversity are not realising in schools, even though included in the Life Orientation (LO) Curriculum and prescribed textbooks. Some of the critical reasons for this are the lack of knowledge and ignorance of the school and teachers about sexual and gender diversity. Surprisingly, this study finds that the youth (regardless of their sexuality) wish to learn about sexuality and gender diversity and that the lack of the teaching thereof lies with the teachers. The main result reveals numerous reasons to why these learners "want" to learn about the other and acknowledge their privileges compared to their heterosexual peers. One of the recommendations of this study is to look at in- and pre-service teacher education. Secondly, a space for critical discussion about sexual diversity (and the other) should be created in schools where the learners' voices can be heard.


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How to Cite
Nichols, H. (2021). South African School Youth in Favour of the Teaching and Learning of “Queerness” and about the "Other"– A Contrast to Current literature. Proceedings of the International Conference on Gender and Sexuality, 2(1), 22-31.