Bishops pupils promoting gender equality

Pupils at a Rondebosch school that doesn’t admit girls are fighting for gender equality.

Three Grade 9 Bishops Diocesan College pupils are on a mission to call out sexist language and behaviour.

Thomas Bester, Max de Romijn and Chris Forbes came up with the idea to promote gender equality during an extramural global-issues class run by the school’s life-sciences teacher, Cheryl Douglas.

The class uses the UN sustainable development goals as a framework for researching issues in the community. The achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls is sustainable development goal number 5.

The pupils decided to get senior role-model pupils at the school, such as prefects and rugby stars, to support their campaign, using the slogan, “not at my school”.

According to Thomas, the thinking was “if a cool guy says it is uncool to be sexist, the other boys would follow”.

Ms Douglas said posters driving home the message were distributed on Monday and the pupils had also started selling “not in my school” button badges for R5.

The proceeds will support the NGO, Woman Against Rape. Its administrator, Carey Robinson, said, “It is important that the pupils learn from a young age how to respect women and each other. The Bishops pupils will be able to have this conversations about sexism at their school with their teachers, and it will help teach the pupils that they should not have a negative attitude to women.”

Ms Douglas believes that this message at the all-boys school is important because the boys involved in the project want to create awareness around how boys view and talk about girls.

Max plans to call on other schools to pick up the campaign. Chris has challenged nearby Rondebosch Boys’ High to do just that. Their hope is that “not at my school” will become a rallying cry among boys and young men.

The three pupils have set up an Instagram account at #notatmyschool.