QC to hold graduation rites for students denied gender-affirming attire

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
QC to hold graduation rites for students denied gender-affirming attire
“We encourage higher education institutions (HEIs) to use alternative graduation ceremonies such as doing it online or moving it to an alternative date in the future when the threat of COVID-19 (will have) been addressed,” Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman J. Prospero de Vera III said yesterday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Graduating high school or college students in Quezon City who were denied their moment to march in gender-affirming attire have been offered to join a separate graduation ceremony to be held by the city government in June.

The Quezon City government announced on social media that it would hold "Graduation Rights: March with Pride in QC" on June 22, which it said was one of the "special activities" to celebrate Quezon City's 85th anniversary. 

The city government noted that several students part of the LGBTQIA+ community have been barred from marching if they don't adhere to their school's dress code despite a standing Department of Education order that enforces a “gender-responsive basic education policy" in all schools.

Specifically, DepEd Order 32, s. 2017  “seeks to enable the DepEd to undertake gender-mainstreaming in education to address both enduring and emerging gender and sexuality-related issues in basic education." 

The DepEd order mandates the protection of all students from "gender-related violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination and bullying" and the promotion of gender equality and non-discrimination in all governance levels.

The Quezon City mayor said in her post that "graduation rites are everyone’s rights, regardless of expression."

"[In] Quezon City, you have the right to express your truth, no matter your SOGIE," Belmonte said in Filipino.

Students interested in joining the graduation ceremony have until June 7 to register. The event will only accommodate 500 participants, according to the registration page. 

In 2022, the DepEd National Capital Region (NCR) office released a memorandum advising schools to allow students to don gender-affirming attire during their graduation rites and reminded its personnel to "respect the gender expression of students."

DepEd NCR put out the memorandum as a response to reports that four transwomen senior high school students were barred from joining their graduation due to their long hair, which went against their schools' dress code.

DepEd NCR Director Wilfredo Cabral said in the memorandum that school heads and administrations were advised to "allow students to attend initiated activities such as end-of-school year rites wearing clothes which are aligned with their gender identity, without restricting students’ gender expression" with the approval of the parent / guardian.

In the same year, the Commission on Human Rights reiterated the importance of implementing DepEd's gender-responsive basic education policy after a series of reported incidents where students and teachers alike were discriminated and subject to gender-based exclusion.

"We remind educators and education institutions that gender issues have an impact on the realisation of the right to education. Critical in understanding this dynamic is the intersectionality of issues, i.e. on how sex and gender issues are tightly connected with other social factors, such as age, class, disability, ethnicity, race, religion, and other status," the human rights body said.


Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which runs Philstar.com. This article is published based on editorial guidelines.

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