There are mixed views on a call to do away with the terms “head boy” and “head girl” in the country’s schools.
The Foundation for Education and Social Justice Africa has urged the government to scrap these terms, arguing that they exclude the LGBTQIA+ community.
The Foundation also says that these terms reinforce the mentality that leadership roles can only be occupied by individuals who conform to traditional gender identities.
It says these can be harmful to learners who identify as non-binary or transgender, as it sends the message that they are not equal or capable of holding leadership positions.
The publication spoke to some learners and residents of Johannesburg who have expressed their views on the scrapping of the “head boy” and “head girl” terms.
Some say that it is not a significant issue and does not change the lived experiences of those in the LGBTQI+ community, while others believe change is due.
“I think the concept should not be abolished in schools because this concept has been working since it was put in place,” said one learner, while another said: “I just feel like some things are unnecessary to change, in as much as I am gay, it doesn’t mean each and everything must change, what will we call these new terms we’re trying to change?”
Meanwhile, this learner said the change would be the right step in creating inclusive spaces in society.
“Start introducing terms like head prefect, head ambassador…I think that would be better I know personally, as someone who’s of trans experience if someone refers to me as Mrs or Mr when I clearly want the title Miss being used to refer to me, I feel really hurt and slightly disrespected.”