Education International
Education International

Education trade unions working to combat sexual discrimination

published 16 December 2010 updated 16 December 2010

Teachers from across Latin America met in Sao Paulo to share effective tools in the struggle against all forms of discrimination and to have the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, included on the trade union agenda.

Education International is also working to construct a Latin American Network to defend, extend and secure LGBT rights. The EI Latin America Regional meeting will define a working strategy to establish concrete trade union policies on LGBT rights and to take measures in consciousness-raising and inclusion of LGBT rights on the trade union agenda within a human rights framework took place on 13-14 December in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Latin American federation of education trade unions has been conducting a debate in which it has been made clear that it ‘cannot postpone the defence of human rights for all, and we must defend the presence of diverse sexual orientations within our schools and workplaces’.

This meeting was preceded by two other meetings, one for activists in Central America, and the other for members living around the Southern Cone. Both meetings focused on establishing a regional Latin American Network on Sexual Diversity and LGBT Rights.

In 2007, the ILO reported that the new forms of labour discrimination concern age, people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as sexual orientation, and the theme of LGBT human rights is definitively becoming a trade union concern as it enters the area of human, labour and social rights.

The meeting in Sao Paulo forms part of a process initiated by EI Latin America Region for the consolidation of a Latin American Network that deals with the inclusion of the rights of LGBT – people on the trade union agenda within education trade union organisations.

EI considers it fundamental for trade unions to have the necessary tools to fight all kinds of discrimination, including cases of violence and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation whether it is suffered by students, teachers or other education workers.

At the beginning of the workshop there was a presentation from EI’s LGBT Rights Coordinator, Rebeca Sevilla, on the experience and the approach of EI’s world office to the rights and education of LGBT people.

The two-day event also discussed the obstacles encountered by organisations trying to develop the theme of LGBT issues and the strategies used to overcome these obstacles in order to generate trade union policies on LGBT human and labour rights.

EI will be jointly hosting an LGBT conference with Public Services International in Cape Town, South Africa from 18-19 July, 2011.