LGBT inclusion in SA school textbooks does not please everyone

The Department of Basic Education is planning to include LGBT realities into the curricula of South African schooling textbooks, which has struck a chord with some.

The development of overhauling textbooks to be more inclusive of sexual and gender minorities, as well as same-sex families, means that children as young as nine-years-old will be introduced to a cutting-edge curriculum based on the current global comprehensive sexuality education curricula.

The Sunday Times reported that an evaluation team, appointed by Minister Angie Motshekga, found that across 38 textbooks in nine subjects there are only two references to the LGBT community.

Celebrity sexologist, Dr Marlene Wasserman (Dr Eve), was one amongst 100 experts that contributed towards developing the “cutting edge” life orientation curriculum for grades 4 to 12.

“It is a very progressive and integrative curriculum, which means that sexuality, although a separate subject, is threaded in with other subjects and vice versa,” says Dr Wasserman.

“My contribution was creating a cutting-edge curriculum based on current comprehensive sexuality education curricula globally, and together with the team adapting it for South African learners.

Masturbation is normalised and it is threaded through [the curriculum] from grade 4. It begins with self pride, self-image, body diversity, genital differences, genital changes and touching oneself for pleasure”.

Dr Wasserman said that the textbooks will teach learner about consent in friendship for grade 4, and older pupils will learn about sexual consent.

Conservative Christian lobby group Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) says that being taught about sex may be in conflict with values, beliefs and opinion. 

Executive Director of FOR SA, Michael Swain, called for parents to “have the option to withdraw their children from such teaching in the event that it conflicts with their own value systems”.

Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, president of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), said “What the Department of Basic Education plans to do is wicked and must be stopped”.

Roché Kester, Hate Crimes Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being, welcomed the inclusion. “We view this as a proactive step taken by the Department of Basic Education that will help to create a culture of understanding and knowledge sharing within our society,” she said.

“If knowledge like this is dispersed to pupils at a young age, it broadens their understanding of the diverse society in which we exist”.