|Apinda Mpako, Pan Africa ILGA|
|Apinda Mpako, Pan Africa ILGA|
A grade 12 pupil’s parents are furious after their child was expelled from an upmarket Joburg boarding school’s residence for allegedly kissing and sexually harassing other girls.
Lynn*, 18, a pupil at Blue Hills College, a private school in Midrand, was expelled from the hostel on January 20 after she was found guilty of two offences relating to sexual harassment.
Two other girls were also slapped with a suspension from their dormitories after they were found guilty of “dating”. The two are appealing their suspension.
Lynn’s first offence relates to an alleged incident of kissing a girl in the school premises, while the second transgression is of “sharing a bed” with another girl.
On Tuesday was the seventh day she had been stuck at her home in Westonaria, west of Joburg. Her enraged parents said they could not afford her 180km travelling expenses to and from school.
While admitting that their child might have violated the school rules, the parents said the decision was harsh and not procedural.
“The principal phoned me to say ‘come and pick up your child, she has been suspended.’ It’s clear that the decision was taken even before the (disciplinary) hearing,” said Lynn’s mother Thando*.
Upon arriving at the school, Thando was told that Lynn’s residence status was suspended. “I asked him (the principal) if he understood the consequences of his decision as Lynn was in Grade 12. He said it was procedure,” she said.
Thando added that the date for the disciplinary hearing was only set after she made some follow-ups as she was kept waiting for three days. The verdict was shattering.
“I screamed and pleaded with them to give her a warning as we live far away from the school. They said they already decided. I have already spent R10 000 on monthly school and boarding fees. How can they be so inconsiderate?”
On Tuesday, Blue Hills School management were uncompromising. “We are a Christian school and if one of the learners kiss – whether it’s a girl to girl, boy to boy, boy to girl or vice versa, we won’t tolerate that,” said Chief Ndlovu, the school’s director of marketing.
He was flanked by the school principal, Jabulani Donga, and the school’s director, Nkululeko Mpofu.
Ndlovu added that two of Lynn’s relatives had “confessed that the child is a lesbian”.
“If a particular learner has a sexual orientation problem, let her practise it at home. Just as boys may like boys. We won’t tolerate any sexual activity at the school.”
But Ndlovu said Lynn’s alleged sexual orientation had not influenced the decision to suspend her from the dormitory. “That has nothing to do with her as a lesbian. It’s solely because of her total disregard of the school regulations.”
Ndlovu denied that the suspensions had not followed proper procedure. He said it was the second time Lynn had been suspended from the school’s residence. She was found guilty of committing a similar offence earlier this month.
He added: “The boarding is not a right, but a privilege and as a school, we reserve the right (to review pupils’ residence status).”
* Not their real names