Schools are considered a child’s second home. It’s a place where they can meet new people, widen their perspectives, and express themselves. But some aspects of the Philippine education system can jeopardize a student’s self-expression. This precisely became a hot topic after one Facebook post went viral. Here’s everything you need to know.
The viral post
The beauty salon shared a before-and-after shot of three kids who had their haircut on Facebook, with a caption that read:
“salamat sa tiwala nyo mga anakshies na gupitan kayo.. alam kong pinaghirapan nyo magpahaba ng mga buhok nyo pero mas importante pa din ang sumunod sa school policies habang nag-aaral pa lang kayo..
maniwala kayo, kapag nakapagtapos kayo, kahit gaano pa kahaba nyo patubuin mga buhok nyo, kakayanin nyong makipagsabayan sa ibang tao kasi nakapagtapos kayo ng pag-aaral..
goodluck mga anakshies!”
As of this writing, the post has over 100K reactions and 30K shares.
Schools should respect their students’ bodily autonomy
Immediately, the post sparked conversations on how schools should let LGBTQIA+ students express themselves. “How one sees and expresses one’s self greatly affects one’s performance,” one user wrote. Inclusivity and respect for students will preserve their dignity, and letting students wear their hair however they want is part of that.
Others took issue with the optimism in the salon’s post, as it does not reflect reality. The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression “SOGIE” Equality Bill still has not been passed into law, which means that many LGBTQ people still face discrimination in the workplace.
Is it just about discipline?
Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan speaks out
In a series of tweets, Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan expressed her thoughts over the now controversial Facebook post. “Ano po bang mali sa aming buhok? Ano po bang mali sa isang transgender woman na gustong magsuot ng unipormeng pambabae o transgender man na hindi kumportableng mag-palda?” She said.
The content creator added that gender expression through clothing gives comfort and builds one’s confidence, which leads to productivity.
“Imagine Philippine educational institutions that help build students’ and teachers’ confidence. Imagine productive Filipino students and teachers because they are comfortable and confident.”
She also pointed out that while cisgender students and teachers can enter the school campus without any issues, there are trans folks that aren’t allowed to enroll or teach. Mela then questioned why DepEd couldn’t seem to implement the Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy.
But what’s Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy?
Also known as DepEd Order No. 37, series of 2017, the Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy aims to integrate the principles of gender equality, gender equity, gender sensitivity, non-discrimination, and human rights.
It also seeks to handle gender-based deterrents and forms of discrimination against marginalized groups to reduce disparities in basic education. The policy also aims to protect children against gender-based violence, abuse, bullying, and discrimination.
The Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy is a step in the right direction. But as this viral post illustrates, we’ve still got a long way to go when it comes to the policy’s implementation.
The challenges faced by Filipino LGBTQ+ students
This isn’t the first time Filipino LGBTQ+ students suffered discrimination due to school policies. Last June, four graduating transwomen were prohibited from joining their graduation ceremonies because of their long hair and wanting to attend in dresses.
However, DepEd NCR Director Wilfredo Cabral reiterated the Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy. He advised the involved school authorities to let the students attend their graduation and wear clothes aligned with their gender identity without restricting students’ gender expression.
A call for DepEd to address issues that affect Filipino LGBTQ+students
You know where SOGIE discrimination begins? Schools.
There are still certain schools that prohibit students from expressing themselves. Why is it so hard for DepEd and other private institutions to uphold fundamental human rights, including the right to express one’s identity? pic.twitter.com/8TtqOVzdBl
— Fred Jzeidric (@fredjzeidric) August 25, 2022
According to a report from the Human Rights Watch, schools that discriminate against LGBTQ+ students cause them to skip classes or even drop out. The report also points out that the rigorous implementation of uniform and hair-length regulations force transgender students to follow out of fear.
DepEd has yet to release an official statement about the issue, but it’s clear they must take action. They have a policy on gender equality, and it should protect the students at all times.
Praying for a more progressive Philippines, and hopefully, it won’t be that long.
Do you think schools’ haircut policies are a form of discrimination? Let us know in the comments!