8 Queer Nigerians Talk Getting Punished At School For Being Queer

March 17, 2021

While we don’t talk about it as much as we need to, queer Nigerians face extreme bullying and violence while in school. Because the system is designed against queer lives, it means that even authorities vested with the responsibility of protecting all students, including queer ones, are either the ones perpetuating that violence or providing support to those perpetuating it. 

Below 8 Nigerians share their horrible experiences getting punished or expelled while in school.

Lolu, 22

To start with, I was suspended twice for being queer, and the last time I was told to leave the hostel and attend school from my house (so as not to infect the other students they said). For someone that went to an only girl’s religious high school, homophobia was always the order of the day even for preachers and guest speakers who would come and tell you how you would have HPV and die from homosexuality. The first time I got suspended, it was over speculations on whether or not I and my partner at the time were always making out under the staircase.  Then one of my male teachers asked me to tell him what it feels like to touch girls and threatened to tell the school he saw me with my partner if I didn’t. I was caught in the act the second time, for a religious school you’d think they’d be more understanding and want to counsel you but no, they started telling people to stay away from me if not I would infect them with the 8 demons inside of me, I remember being called out on the assembly ground flogged 16 times and how I was made to kneel down in front of a very public place so people could see the face of a lesbian and make sure not to be like me, I saw people laughing at me, showing disgust and even pointing at me with pity. I still have both suspension letters and now I just laugh when I go through them.

Timi, 22

It was in 2016 and I was preparing for final exams. We were on an excursion one time and I made out with this boy. The next morning I noticed he was suddenly cold, later that day, a teacher called me and flogged me, saying I was going about possessing people with homosexuality. Apparently, this friend told him that I was the one who made him fall into sin. About a week later I was called to the Disciplinary Committee, I wasn’t even given a chance to talk, there was nothing I wanted to say anyway, from every angle I kept hearing how I was going to burn in hell, how I can never be redeemed, how I have become a shame to the society. I was suspended from school and they told boys to be careful because I might be looking out for who to possess next. After I came back to school, only about 10% spoke to me before we graduated.

Chioma, 24

So in SS3 1st term, I became close friends with this girl. This was a catholic school. We were just friends, still are and along the line, I fell ill so she took me to her corner for the duration. Took care of me. We became closer, did everything together. She even came to my house during the holidays. Nothing sexual ever happened asides from holding hands and hugs cause we were both pretty religious but apparently our feelings were obvious. One day, some girl woke me from siesta and said that the disciplinary committee was looking for me. I was a labor Prefect so I thought it had something to do with that. Got there and they were throwing accusations around me and asking that I confess to being a lesbian. I denied. For one, I didn’t really believe that I was. Anyways they kept prodding and threatening me with expulsion, that they had eyewitnesses who can swear we were seen making out. They also accused us of being evil, possessed, and corrupting the girls in my friend’s hostel. After the meeting, I called my mum and told her what had happened and when she came, I was given an expulsion letter. I had to write my WAEC from home. After the expulsion, the principal went on a smear campaign. He called an assembly to say all sorts about me. It was ridiculous now that I think of it. I should add that our parents were super supportive at the time. My brother wanted to sue but the principal threatened to withhold my certificate.

Sara, 20

I was in Jss2, so I was around 11 years old and I was in the boarding house of an all-girls school. At the time I was not aware of my queerness, but I had a senior that was particularly attached to me. One morning, I was getting dressed for school and the senior, let’s call her R, spanked me playfully with a hanger and I giggled and that was enough homosexuality for another senior who reported us to the hostel mistresses and school administration for being a lesbian and I was promptly 

suspended with no investigation. I was told that the fact that both of us were practically naked and that we were engaging in “sexual practices” should have been grounds for expulsion but my mother fought the case and I was suspended for two weeks and removed from the boarding house.

Lauren, 33

When I was in secondary school, a student organized a get-together for me and my friends and somehow it became something the school tagged a “lesbian initiation.” Before I knew what was going on, I was in the principal’s office with my mother, and I was trying to convince them that I was not a lesbian nor was I a cultist just to avoid being expelled. It was time for final year exams so a lot was at stake. Fast forward to university. I fell in love with a girl and we would always walk around calling each other baby and just loving on each other the way two best friends would. And yet again, we were called to a panel but this time, we were both suspended for a year because the school is a Christian school. My mother was very disappointed and was like “there’s no smoke without fire and that I am repeating the same thing” but she was also supportive. After the suspension, my girlfriend and I returned and had to find ways not to be so in love. It was a whole mess.

Larma, 24

You really won’t understand the humiliation femme boys face in primary and secondary school for just being effeminate. It was a Sunday morning when I was called upon to testify if I knew my then friend was into homosexuality ( unknown to me my friend was caught with another boy the previous night) The news did spread at the time which led me and a couple of other guys to write statements, my friend got withdrawn by his parents, names were called out on the assembly but the “offense” wasn’t said. The punishment was to basically clean and do some menial community work. I finished from the same school, but I never for once stopped hearing untrue gossip that I’ve slept or I’ve been in a relationship with almost all the boys in school and because I was effeminate it worsened the case.

Charles, 21

I was expelled at the end of JSS1 from an all-boys Catholic boarding school. It was not because I was actually caught engaging in sexual activities with another boy, but because I was extremely feminine and everyone believed I was definitely having sex with someone else, or at the very least, it was bound to happen so I might as well be expelled. The worst part is that my parents sent me off to another all-boys Catholic boarding school after that.

Alex, 23

At 100 level I fell in love with a student representative, her name was Mia. For months we were together and after some time people started coming up to me to warn me about the relationship I had with Mia saying that a lot of people are upset about it and that some of the school authorities had started to suspect, so I listened to them and removed my self entirely from the circle. Some weeks passed and some student representatives and a school representative barged into my room and took me someplace for questioning. After so many threats, they eventually settled at saying they just wanted to get me the help I needed and that they didn’t want anything to happen so I shouldn’t be worried they just wanted to pray away the gayness from me. So I believed them because it was a priest that said he just wanted to help and pray for me. 

I went back the following day for my pray and deliverance session and the priest nearly ran me over with his car calling me all sorts of names. Different versions of my story spread around campus and I became very suicidal. I faced the disciplinary panel. And two weeks after the panel I was sent home on a semester suspension. Thankfully, I still got a 4.7/5 that semester.

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