Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Over Half Of LGBTQI Students In Europe Bullied In School: UNESCO


More than one in two LGBTQI students in Europe
have suffered bullying based on their sexuality, the UN
educational, cultural and scientific body (
UNESCO)
said
on Monday, the
International
Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia,
Transphobia
.

In a survey
of more than 17,000 youngsters aged 13 to 24, 54 per cent of
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people said
that they had been bullied at least once, based on their
sexual orientation or gender
identity.

Backlash

“Everyone says you can be
whoever you want, you can be free, you can express yourself
at school…then if you try to be different, you get
backlash”, said one 19-year-old student participating in
the survey.

The study highlighted widespread
discriminatory attitudes, with 83 per cent of students
reporting that they had heard negative comments about LGBTQI
students, while 67 per cent said that they had been the
target of critical comments at least once.

Further
findings from UNESCO’s Global
Education Monitoring Report indicated that nearly six in 10
students “never reported bullying incidents to any school
staff” and fewer than two in 10 did so
systematically.

“Many teachers lack the confidence
and knowledge to support LGBTQI learners”, the report
said, noting that action by teachers and other academic
staff in response to negative remarks and bullying were
“vital” to an inclusive education system.

More
than words

“Education is about more than just maths
and words”, said Manos Antoninis, who directed the report.
“Schools have to be inclusive if we want society to be
inclusive. If children are being taught that only a certain
type of person is accepted, that is going to affect the way
they behave towards others”.

‘Unsafe and
unwelcome’

In a call for action to tackle the
global problem, report co-author, the International LGBTQI
Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO), said that although
many countries had adopted a more inclusive approach to all
students, “many LGBTQI students still feel unsafe and
unwelcome in school”.

There remained “a real fear
that the isolation and permanent shift to online
interactions this past year will have turned the dial up on
bullying and marginalisation as well”, said Jonathan
Beger, Interim Executive Director of IGLYO.

Echoing
concerns for LGBTQI individuals, UNESCO Director-General
Audrey Azoulay warned about the increasing risks they face,
as COVID-19 pandemic
restrictions continue.

“Younger people in
particular, because of the persistence of prejudice in their
family or social environment, are sometimes threatened with
being driven out of their homes and finding themselves in
distress or destitution”, Ms. Azoulay said.
“Furthermore, as the work of voluntary organizations is
more complex, LGBTI people are likely to lack contacts and
trusted people to talk to.”

Abuse at
home

Refugee members of the LGBTQI community also
face particular risks, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said, noting that
same-sex relationships remain illegal in more than 70
countries.

In a call for an end to the daily abuse and
indignity faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
intersex and queer people, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi also
warned that in six countries, couples of the same gender
face the death sentence.

He urged countries “to keep
their doors open to LGBTIQ+” people in need of refuge, and
added that for many, the discrimination starts at
home.

This was the case for the UNHCR’s first trans
advocate, Bianka Rodriguez from El Salvador.

Ms.
Rodriguez was “held at gunpoint, abused by her own mother
and bullied out of school because she was trans”, the High
Commissioner explained.

She
now works to ensure fair laws for people who are harassed
because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in
her country – and she will continue “to protect and
advocate for LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people around the
world” – Mr. Grandi
said.

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