All means ALL: Including LGBTQIA+ Learners in Education for All
This Pride month, we celebrate the many positive examples of progress and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and agender (LGBTQIA+) individuals in education around the world. Some examples include:
- In Pakistan, the 2018 Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act prohibits discrimination in education on the basis of gender identity.
- In 2016, the South African Department of Basic Education published a booklet to help educators address homophobic bullying and make school grounds safer for LGBTQIA+ students. Several Cape Town schools have taken steps to include transgender and gender non-conforming students by establishing gender neutral uniforms and lavatories.
- In Colombia, the 2013 Inclusive Higher Education Policy Guidelines highlighted the need to include the LGBTQIA+ community in ensuring that higher education opportunities are equitable and inclusive.
Progress, but still a long way to go
Despite considerable progress in legal protection and inclusion, many LGBTQIA+ people continue to face barriers to life and learning. It is still illegal to be gay in 69 countries, and 12 countries still impose the death penalty for consensual homosexual acts between adults. Violence and persecution on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression are major factors causing displacement and impacting the health and wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ people around the world.
These challenges extend to schools and learning centers. LGBTQIA+ students routinely face bullying and discrimination. Globally, 42% of LGBTQIA+ youth reported having been ‘ridiculed, teased, insulted or threatened at school.’ 37% reported feeling rarely or never safe at school. This persecution and fear of persecution, combined with the stress of displacement, can become toxic, and result in lifelong learning impairments and physical and mental health issues.
Like all students, LGBTQIA+ students deserve to feel safe and supported in their schools and communities. So how can we support them?
Inclusive, affirming interventions
In honor of Pride month, here are few resources you can use to inform your programming and ensure that it is inclusive of displaced LGBTQIA+ people:
- Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression: Essential Terminology for the Humanitarian Sector: A five-language dictionary, glossary and usage guide to assist humanitarian professionals communicate effectively and respectfully with and about people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Available in English, French, Turkish, Farsi and Arabic.
- Sexual and Gender Minority Refugees Safe Space Checklist: This checklist can be used to ensure that your agency is open and safe for sexual and gender minority (SGM) refugees and asylum seekers. Also available in Spanish, French and German.
- When "We Know Nothing": Recommendations for Ethical Research and Learning with and for LGBTQI People in Humanitarian Settings: This report presents recommendations for how international humanitarian agencies can better learn about and support the needs of LGBTQI people affected by conflict and displacement.
- Don't Look Away: No Place for Exclusion of LGBTI Students: This policy paper details the progress and barriers to progress for LGBTI-inclusive education globally.
- Out in the Open: Education sector responses to violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression: This report presents the findings of a global review of homophobic and transphobic violence in schools and education sector responses.
All means ALL
If we are to truly achieve education for all, we need to ensure that education systems and programs are responsive to the needs of all learners, especially those at higher risk of experiencing violence. We need to ensure that displaced LGBTQIA+ students and teachers are safe in schools and learning centers, that they have access to accurate and affirming information, and that teaching and learning materials don’t perpetuate harmful gender norms. We need to improve monitoring of school related gender-based violence and harassment, and create a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environments where all students can thrive.
We’ll never achieve education for all if we don’t support ALL students. We still have a long way to go.