One of the things that recently reassured me that our society is far from accepting certain realities is the public outcry that came after the publishing of an article hinting at the possibility of including, among other things, LGBTIQ+ related topics in South African schools’ curriculum. This flak proved that narrow-mindedness still engulfs our civilisation.
In the 21st century, we still have parents who rebuff this move even before it reaches its implementation stage. Some stated on social media that they should be allowed to exclude their children from classes that would teach them about same sex relationships and gender identity. How backward!
But it wasn’t just ordinary citizens who weighed in on this topic. A politician who currently leads the African Christian Democratic Party, Kenneth Meshoe, expressed rather religious sentiments. He called this progressive move “wicked”, adding that it should be stopped. People using religion in an attempt to holdback our nation is exactly why there is and should be a separation of church and state in South Africa. The Reverend must be reminded of this.
I term the move “progressive” because it will go a long way in imparting the knowledge and understanding of diversity as far as sexuality and gender identity are concerned – something that school-age South Africans need to embrace. Knowing and understanding that there is more than one type of sexual orientation and that gender identities vary, will go a long way in ensuring, inter alia, that the bullying of learners in schools because they are different sees an end. There’s no better place to teach these topics than in schools.
The opponents of this proposed curriculum say it will promote homosexuality and that it will turn their kids gay. This is far from the truth. Firstly, homosexuality is not like a product you market for sale – it’s not promotable. It is a natural occurrence and as such, it was here before, it is here now and it will be here in future. No promotion is needed. Secondly, no one can be turned gay just as no one can be turned straight; it’s not something that can be operated like a machine – turning it on and off!
Should this curriculum be implemented in South Africa, it will ensure that the existence of different gender identities and sexual orientations is acknowledged and normalised. What is wrong with that? What would be wrong with a curriculum that will teach school learners about sexual consent, gender nonconformity and single-parent families?
Nothing is wrong with actively moving our society away from Stone Age school of thought to contemporary ways of thinking backed by scientific research.
Society must welcome efforts to include this type of education in schools. This curriculum is long overdue.