Schools cannot restrict students’ gender expression, even their choice of clothing during graduation rites, according to the Department of Education (DepEd) – National Capital Region’s regional memorandum released on June 27.
This comes after public outcry over the four graduating transwomen who were previously barred from joining their graduation marches because of their long hair and the school’s dress codes.
The memo affirmed DepEd’s gender-responsive policy, reminding schools to respect students’ gender expression, which refers to how people communicate their gender that including their choice of clothing, language and interests.
DepEd Order No. 32, which took effect in June 2017, prompts education department officials to provide a gender-responsive environment with “zero-tolerance for all forms of discrimination, violence and abuse.”
“School heads/school administrators and all school personnel are hereby advised to allow students to attend school-initiative activities, such as the end-of-school-year rites wearing clothes which are aligned with their gender identity,” the memo read.
Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan posted a screenshot of the DepEd memo on June 28.
“Gender Identity and Gender Expressionare hereby recognized from this day on! Wala ng Nicole, Jade, Kendy, at Rey ang masisikil dahil trans sila!” Habijan said in a Facebook post.
Habijan recently gifted the four transwomen with a creative photoshoot after finding out the students were not permitted to march in their graduation ceremonies.
“They’ve been told: ‘Formal event yun!’ ‘Hahaba naman ulit yan!’ ‘Tanggap naman namin kayo, pero…’ Such painful explanations to hear. Why can’t they be themselves [on] an occasion they worked hard for? Why aren’t they allowed? Why do they have to compromise their identities?” Habijan said on Twitter.
Not long after, Habijan also posted that three of the four transwomen were permitted to march on June 27. One of them, however, was allowed to join the ceremony but on the condition that they put their hair up and wear their male uniforms.
Habijan’s post has earned at least 14,000 reactions and 7,000 shares on Facebook.
Calls for gender inclusion
Meanwhile, ome Filipinos also took to social media to call for gender inclusion in schools with the Pride Month celebration about to cap off this June.
“Cheers to the right of inclusion of trans students in the graduation rites. not only them, but everyone involved in the LGBTQIA+ community. hoping other state universities and colleges must do the same,” one Facebook user said.
“See what “protesting” can do. Change,” a Facebook user commented.
“How about sa ating mga trans teachers? Honestly being a guro sana magkaroon din kme ng ganitong malayang pagpapahayag,” another user asked.