LGBTQIA+ students and teachers will soon be able express themselves more freely in the gender they identify as without fear of discrimination.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has directed the "strict implementation" of its executive order protecting the community from gender-based violence and discrimination in DepEd elementary and high schools across all regions in the country.
LGBTQIA+ advocate Mela Franco Habijan in a Facebook post Sept. 2 shared DepEd's memo reminding regional directors and school heads about its E.O. 32 series of 2017, or the Gender Responsive Basic Education Polic in line with the gradual return to in-person classes.
Habijan has repeatedly called on DepEd—even writing a letter to its secretary, Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio—to implement the measure which several schools have not been complying with.
Habijan has been sharing incidents of schools that discriminate against LGBTQIA+ students, like the case of three youngsters with long hair who were forced to have a haircut, as well as a cum laude graduate whose photo will reportedly not be flashed during ceremonies for supposed "cross-dressing."
"WE FINALLY WON THE BATTLE!" Habijan wrote in a Facebook post Sept. 2.
"LGBTQIA+ KIDS, SIMULA SA ARAW NA ITO, MALAYA NA TAYONG MAGING TAYO SA PAARALAN! 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!" the Miss Trans Global 2020 added.
The news was received positively on social media, with Habijan responding to inquiries about the policy in relation to College levels, saying: "This is our next battle."
Full face-to-face classes returned last Aug. 22. 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, according to the agency.