No more forced haircuts? Dept. of Education releases memo reiterating ‘gender-responsive’ policy for schools

Image: RR Valencia Salon for Men and Women
Image: RR Valencia Salon for Men and Women

Following the viral photos of LGBTQ kids who were apparently forced to get haircuts to comply with their school’s heteronormative policies, the Department of Education (DepEd) seems to be adopting a stronger stance on gender inclusivity as schools nationwide return to face-to-face classes.

Miss Trans Global 2020 and activist Mela Habijan posted on Facebook that DepEd had released a memorandum that strictly enforces DepEd Order 32, also known as the Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy, across the country.

“WE FINALLY WON THE BATTLE! DepEd HEARD US!” Habijan wrote on social media.

“I just received the email fom DepEd. In a memorandum signed by Usec Revsee Escobedo and Asec. Panchet Bringas, it REITERATES ‘the strict implementation of and compliance to DO 32, s. 2017, especially in consideration of the upcoming opening of School Year 2022-2023 and the gradual return of learners to in-person classes.’”

The order, which was first issued in 2017, allows DepEd to “integrate the principles of gender equality, gender equity, gender sensitivity, non-discrimination, and human rights in the provision and governance of basic education.”

The policy aims to protect students from discrimination, gender-related violence, abuse, exploitation, and bullying.

It also ensures gender parity in the workplace and in mainstreaming gender inclusivity in policies and programs, projects, and activities.

In the memo, the education department stressed this was in line with its mandate to “ensure access to quality basic education for all.”

“​​LGBTQIA+ kids, starting today, we will be free to be us in school!” Habijan added in her post. “From this day on, all trans and non-binary students and teachers can express in the gender that they identify as! No LGBTQIA+ students will be discriminated due to their identities, orientation, and expression.”

While it remains to be seen whether the memorandum will indeed lead to schools dropping heteronormative policies such as the still widespread rule mandating short haircuts for boys, we certainly hope Habijan is correct and that our schools will become a place where all students feel free to express their authentic selves.

READ: Discrimination or discipline? School haircuts for LGBTQ youths spark online debate

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