The ACDP staged a picket outside the Western Cape provincial legislature on Monday to protest against the draft policy on gender identity and sexual orientation for public schools in the Western Cape which it sees as harmful to children and a threat to the constitutional rights of parents, teachers and pupils.
After the picket Ferlon Christians leader of the ACDP in the Western Cape and a member of the provincial legislature handed a memorandum calling for the scrapping of the policy to a representative of the WC Education Department.
ACDP protesters outside the legislature held up banners with messages such as “Keep ungodly principles out of schools”, “God created male and female” and “Down with Unisex bathrooms”.
The draft policy was published for comment last year and according to media reports the education department says it has received many comments in support and against the policy — as well suggested amendments.
In an interview today Christians told Gateway News the ACDP has “lots of problems” with the policy, including access to female bathrooms for males who identify as females, and requirements that teachers’ use learners’ gender identity pronouns of choice.
“What is very disturbing to us as the ACDP is that [in terms of the draft policy] the school principal can send a child to a counsellor or psychologist if they have a gender identity crisis. Now that’s taking the right away from the parent completely and that is totally unacceptable,” he said.
“We know children go through different phases and sometimes parents are not aware of it. But this [policy] takes the right away from parents and gives it to a principal and I don’t even believe that is constitutional. So there are fundamental flaws with this policy and it must be scrapped in its entirety.”
Christians also said the guidelines grant a lot of power to schools to enforce the policy, which leaves Christian teachers who disagree with the policy in a situation where their jobs are on the line.
“How can you live out your Christian values if you are pressured to implement a policy which is against your beliefs?” he said.
He said he has previously made a speech in the provincial legislature in which he told the DA government there are girls in the United Kingdom, who do not want to go to school because they are afraid of using unisex toilets.
“So in the UK there are already problems involving this policy but now they [the WC education department] want to implement a policy here that has failed in the UK.”
He said while the promoters of the policy, which is a first in SA, have spoken of seeking to protect the LGBTQ community, they “are forcing down an ungodly policy on our learners who are young and are influenced quickly as they always listen to the teachers and headmasters”.
“I have a problem with that — this is definitely an evil agenda driven against the children of God.”
Christians said Monday’s picket and a follow-up open letter he plans writing to WC MEC for education Debbie Schafer requesting a response to the ACDP memorandum, were aimed at making Christian people — especially parents — aware of the draft policy.
While the department had invited public comments as required by law, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the public process had been limited to written responses, he said.
“This must be given more public scrutiny, more public comment, before they even try to implement this policy. But I’m saying from the ACDP’s side this is not a good policy and must be scrapped it its entirety.”
According to a report in The South African the WC Education Department said the draft policy was released for public comment in 2020. Comments were received from different organisations and individuals from across society and responses were mixed, according to the department, some people were in favour of the policy, while others were against it or offered suggestions for adjustments.
The department said some school governing bodies had “addressed the issue” via their diversity and inclusivity policies but it was their duty as the provincial department of education to help all in schools to create “a more inclusive environment for all learners, regardless of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.”