Miss Trans Global 2020 and LGBTQIA+ advocate Mela Franco Habijan urged Vice President Sara Duterte, also the Department of Education (DepEd) secretary, to ensure inclusivity of transgenders in schools—as full face-to-face classes return on Aug. 22.
In a Facebook post on Aug. 15, Habijan shared the letter she sent Duterte, where she raised concerns about transgender people being barred from coming to school in the gender they identify as.
"Trans girls in particular are being asked to cut their hair and are mandated to wear the prescribed uniform for male students," Habijan wrote, noting it gives anxiety and fear among the students.
She pointed out DepEd's very own Gender Responsive Basic Education Policy in 2017, which aims to protect students from gender-based violence and discrimination and promotes inclusion of LGBTQIA+ students and teachers.
"Sadly, some of our educator friends are still unaware of this policy," Habijan said in the letter.
She appealed to Duterte to reiterate and ensure the implementation of the policy in all schools.
Habijan reshared the letter in another Facebook post Aug. 19, as Duterte and other DepEd officials weren't responding to her.
"I feel your anxiety as we open classes on Monday," she told LGBTQIA+ teachers and students in the post. "Pero kapit tayo! Manalig sa pag-asang pakikinggan tayo nina VP Sara Duterte at ng pamunuan ng DepEd."
"Dearest Friends, I plead: please help us amplify our call for inclusion in our DepEd schools and CHED universities and colleges," she added.
Habijan listed four items which reinforce the points she made in her letter. She wrote:
- DepEd has inclusive policies written. It just needs to be implemented.
- Education is for all. Let trans and non-binary students go to school and learn. Let trans and non-binary teachers teach.
- Hindi buhok o kasuotan ang batayan ng galing, talino, at moralidad.
- Walang masama at hindi mali ang maging transgender at non-binary. Let LGBTQIA+ students and teachers be themselves. Because if you let us be who we are, we will become our best.
DepEd previously said 24,175 private and public schools, or 46% of schools nationwide, will welcome back students in a regular five-day face-to-face classes.
Some 29,721 schools or 51.8%, meanwhile, will implement blended learning. Only 1,004 schools, or 1.29%, will have full distance learning.
Over 27 million students have enrolled for the school year, DepEd noted.