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Schools need to talk about gender

Allowing learners to be themselves is an important and vital aspect of any school environment. With this in mind Grade 7 to 12 learners at Cape Town’s Riverside College on Burgundy Estate, explored various concepts around identity, gender and sexuality during the month of March.

Culminating in a workshop run by the University of Cape Town’s Gender and Sex Project (GASP) and NGO Gender Dynamix, learners took part in an interactive session that dealt with common misconceptions, perceived social taboos and prejudices around gender.

“Schools have to talk about gender and identity. We encourage our learners to engage in conversations that stimulate debate, foster understanding and encourage empathy. Our role as a school is to create a safe space in which our leaners feel comfortable to do so,” says Riverside’s High School Principal, Dave Swart.

Facilitated by student-led organisation GASP, learners were encouraged to question their own beliefs around issues of gender and sexuality. Since 2015, the student lead entity has taken on the challenge of transforming attitudes around gender discrimination in schools.

“The fear of rejection by friends and family often prevents many young people from being who they are or loving whom they want to love. Learners who do not identify as either girl or boy can feel invalidated and invisible,” says Sihle Kunene, President of GASP. “Schools provide a great space in which to stimulate discussion around these topics.”

“Prejudice, on all levels, needs to be tackled in an authentic and relevant way at schools. Just because someone is different from you, it doesn’t mean that they should be marginalised or treated as such,” says Swart. “Riverside College is committed to creating an environment, where learners can thrive and feel comfortable in their own skin. We will continue to explore concepts that ensure inclusivity, on all levels, at our school.”

Schools and youth groups looking to host their own workshops on gender and identity should contact GASP at



Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:

Sarah Waterfield

021 447 1082 / 060 677 6235 

On behalf of Riverside College:

Founder: Elana Edwards


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