A panel on “Homophobia within the Education System” was held on 5 Mar in New York at the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Organised by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans- and Intersex Association (ILGA), the panel offered evidence of the reality confronting LGBT teachers and students, and actions developed to fight homophobia in schools worldwide.
The acronym LGBT stands for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
EI Equality Co-ordinator Rebeca Sevilla was the moderator of this panel, which explored ways to prompt public policies to protect the rights of LGBT persons in education, and to guarantee their ability to teach and learn in safe school environments.
When faced with homophobia in schools, teachers and students do not only suffer emotional and/or physical trauma, their work and academic performances can also be compromised. Sometimes, the situation even reaches the point where the teacher or student would rather quit than continue to suffer the harassment or discrimination.
Because of the huge obstacle homophobia presents to the right to education, there is an increasing pressure on both teacher unions and civil society organisations work together to end homophobia in schools.
In 1998, delegates at the EI World Congress adopted a "Resolution on the Protection of the Rights of Lesbian and Gay Education Personnel", which states clearly that "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of human rights" and mandated EI and its member organisations to "promote education against prejudice, discrimination and harassment, including on the grounds of sexual orientation, as an essential part of every teacher's role".
To read the full text of the resolution, please click on the link below.