Trans queen cheers DepEd’s inclusivity measure
MANILA, Philippines — The LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual plus) community in the Philippines scored another victory in a largely heteronormative society when the Department of Education (DepEd) issued a memorandum directing public schools to strictly enforce an earlier order promoting gender inclusivity.
Activist and 2020 Miss Trans Global Mela Habijan shared the news on a social media post, relaying the information that the education department, in a memorandum signed by Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo and Assistant Sec. Panchet Bringas, reiterates “the strict implementation of and compliance to [Department Order] 32 [of 2017], especially in consideration of the upcoming opening of school year 2022-2023 and the gradual return of learners to in-person classes.”
One of Habijan’s friends and fellow beauty queen, 2021 Miss International Queen Philippines Patricia Payumo, shared in the community’s celebration of the agency’s enforcement of its “Gender-Responsive Basic Education” order in public schools across the country.
“I am very happy and glad that DepEd acknowledges and supports people in our community to express themselves and how they identify themselves as,” she told the Inquirer at the sidelines of the opening of The Pretty You Prime in Mandaluyong City on Sept. 6.
Payumo said she believes the measure will encourage younger members of the LGBTQIA plus community to study more by being allowed to express themselves.
“I think it’s very important because when someone feels welcomed and understood, I think everything else goes hand-in-hand and freely,” she continued.
The recent issuance of the memorandum directing public schools to enforce an order signed five years ago came at the forefront of the community’s plight for inclusive education in the country because its release was announced days after a social media post showing a group of young students who had their long hair cut short went viral. The three incoming students did so in preparation for the resumption of face-to-face classes, and to adhere to an educational institution’s heteronormative rules on appearances and clothing.
For Payumo, having a public environment, such as schools, that welcomes everyone’s gender expression is beneficial for young LGBTQIA plus students.
“When someone feels welcome, I think they are more able to be more creative and flourish as an individual,” she explained. JB