23 September 2018

Zimbabwe: GALZ Comes Out in Support of Gay School Head

The Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has come out in full support of a school head who on Friday made a bold and seemingly unsolicited disclosure that he was gay.

Neal Hovelmeier, head of the 6th form at St John's College, said the decision to come clean on his sexual orientation was aimed at helping curb homophobia at the well-to-do learning institution.

His revelations have however ignited calls by some locals who feel the country was not yet ready to embrace gays and the head should, accordingly, leave the school.

However, GALZ director Chester Samba said Saturday that the school head's bold decision to brave a backlash would go a long way in helping those who feared coming out in the open about their sexual orientation do so.

"I think coming out will undoubtedly assist teachers in managing some of the challenges associated with learners such as dealing with student assumptions around heteronormativity," Samba told NewZimbabwe.com Saturday.

"It will help in developing a classroom culture of inclusivity for other LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, intersex people) learners and how other students can be supportive of LGBTI students in ways that embrace diversity in the classroom."

The GALZ director said the revelation will also school teachers addressing similar topics within the learning environment.

"Normally, teachers choose to skip topics in class that they find embarrassing to talk about," he said.

"Coming out will help end social isolation within the school as he will now begin to feel a sense of community with the reported support and cheers he received from learners."

Following the admission, Ropafadzo Benjamin, a Harare resident said the school head must have kept that to himself than cause unnecessary anxiety among students and parents through his avowal.

James Mupudzi, another Harare resident, said the teacher must not be allowed to continue working in an environment largely comprised of people of Christian faith who frown upon gays.

Zimbabweans are yet to accept gay issues as part of human rights matters with former President Robert Mugabe known to be a rabid critic of gays.

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