By Tendayi Madhomu
Tempers flared during a stakeholders’ meeting convened by the St John’s Education Trust to discuss disclosures by the school’s deputy headmaster to the effect that he was gay.
The chairperson of the trust Charles Msipa had sent mail to parents and guardians inviting them to the meeting held on Monday, which yielded no resolute conclusion, with some parents shedding tears, fearing for their sons.
This followed disclosures by Neal Hovelmeier, the school’s deputy headmaster, of his gay status.
Msipa came under fire during the indaba, with parents demanding answers as to why he was in support of homosexuality, yet he is aware of the laws of the land.
A clash in sentiments, emanating from race and religious beliefs was palpable during the meeting, with a lesser fraction of parents in attendance supporting the gay tendencies.
“We have no problem with anyone’s sexual orientation, but the venue, audience and time at which the proclamation was made. We think it is an invitation for our children to adopt certain sexual beliefs, we are scared our children will be recruited,” said a fuming parent during the meeting.
“A committee with parents’ representatives needs to sit without school authorities and make decisions.”
Another parent said in this era of technology children have information on their fingertips, and they should be allowed to make their own decisions.
“This has become racial. There are different types of teachers here, of different races, and different religions. If you think your children are so vulnerable, you don’t know how much time they spend on the Internet. They are able to make their own choices,” she said.
“This is an act of discrimination; someone went to the papers with this. From here your boys are going to universities. I don’t know how many are going to stay here and enrol at the University of Zimbabwe. Most of our boys will be out there in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and America. Will you be able to protect them?”
Some parents said the news of the gay teacher shocked them because they enrolled their children at St John’s believing the institution upholds Christian values.
“We are concerned about the psycho, social upbringing of our children. We look at value systems when we look for schools for our children,” said a parent.
A mother broke down in tears before Msipa after the meeting, narrating how her Form Two son has experienced nightmares over the past days after Hovelmeier’s proclamation.
Msipa said parents interested in forming the committee to discuss the matter can email him, a conclusion that was booed at by most parents who were largely unsatisfied.
In a letter, a former teacher at the elite school from 2006 to 2007 said during that period the first scandal involving homosexuality with the staff occurred.
While for many years homosexuality was a dismissible offence in schools, it has been tolerated and embraced in some schools.
The St John’s College developments come as Zimbabwe’s gays and lesbians have recently welcomed the possibility of the ruling Zanu PF finally embracing gay rights.
Although the Constitution prohibits same sex marriages, it is still silent on gay relations. DailyNews