Consultation with Students: A Path Towards Inclusive School Policies

CHEd Chairman Prospero de Vera 3rd
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Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Urges Student Consultation for Crafting Student Policies

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III has emphasized the importance of student consultation in the development of student policies that align with the law. This statement comes in response to recent criticism faced by the Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) after a video went viral showing a transgender student having their hair cut before being allowed to enroll.

The incident prompted the official LGBTQIA organization of EARIST, Bahaghari-EARIST, to condemn the school’s policy as “outdated” and discriminatory based on gender expression. Lawmakers and other advocacy groups also voiced their disapproval, with Gabriela Party-list Representative Arlene Brosas calling for the school to abandon its discriminatory policies.

Rep. Brosas expressed her concern, stating, “It is appalling to witness educational institutions perpetuate discriminatory policies that violate the fundamental rights and dignity of students. Such actions not only harm individuals but contribute to a culture of exclusion and marginalization within a supposedly safe space for the youth.”

Upon being informed about the issue, Chairman De Vera took action by instructing CHED Executive Director Cinderella Jaro to invite representatives from both the EARIST administration, led by President Rogelio Mamaraldo, and Bahaghari-EARIST, represented by Red Riotoc, to engage in a dialogue.

Following discussions, both parties reached a consensus. It was agreed that all students of EARIST would be allowed to enroll, irrespective of their hair length. Furthermore, the school administration decided to temporarily suspend the contested provisions in their student handbook, including regulations regarding haircuts, admissions, and uniform policies. The administration will now consult with all students to develop inclusive guidelines that will be included in the revised student handbook. These revisions aim to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Chairman De Vera emphasized the significance of these revisions, stating, “It is crucial that these changes are incorporated into the revised student handbook to ensure the prevention of similar incidents in the future.” Additionally, CHED will organize workshops among higher education institutions (HEIs) to share best practices in inclusivity and gender sensitivity. These workshops will enable HEIs to improve their student policies and foster a more inclusive environment.

In conclusion, Chairman De Vera urges all HEIs to align their student policies with legal requirements and prioritize open lines of communication with students. It is essential that student voices are heard and considered in the crafting of policies. By doing so, HEIs can create an environment that respects the rights and dignity of all students, fostering inclusivity and eliminating discrimination.

Source: The Manila Times

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