A 20-year-old student in Durban, South Africa has been bullied by his class and teacher for being gay.
Bheka Khanyile says his teacher would regularly mock him for wearing make-up and ask whether he had a penis or a vagina.
Khanyile studies business administration at Coastal College and says he has been putting up with the discrimination for a long time.
“I have been patient with the abuse, but I just couldn’t cope,” the 20-year-old says.
Khanyile says his teacher began openly mocking him in the college cafeteria one day.
“She started saying horrible stuff like why I’m like this. She said I didn’t know how to use my penis, because I would make such a handsome boyfriend, adding that I must leave this homosexuality things because I was not born like this," he recalls. “What killed me inside is that she said all of this in front of other people. She said I must leave her class because she cannot teach a gay guy."
Khanyile left the school because he couldn’t take the discrimination any longer, saying that it "broke [him] down," stating: "I've been made a joke because of my sexuality."
The school was unapologetic when contacted for comment, saying Khanyile should have reached out to student support services.
When told that Khanyile had indeed reached out and reported the bullying, Coastal College spokesperson Sne Zuma said that perhaps no-one was around to attend to the case.
Equal Education deputy secretary Ntuthuzo Ndzomo says the college must take responsibility for the behaviour of its teachers.
“No school in South Africa is allowed to discriminate against a student because of sexuality. The student has a right to take the matter as far as the Human Rights Commission. Every student has a right to education regardless of sexuality,” says Ndzomo.
“The scourge of lesbian and gay abuse is tearing our society apart and it is imperative that we all play a meaningful role in fighting against it."
Ndzomo added that the college will be conducting an internal investigation and the lecturer in question will be disciplined.