ILGA organized a side event at the CSW on 5 March 2010 on homophobia within the education system. Chaired by Rebeca Sevilla of Education International, the two panelists were Helen Kennedy (Egale/ILGA North America) and Valentine Kalende from FAR/Uganda. Two panelists were unable to attend, Iris Hernandez from Chile because of the earthquake and Patricia Nantayi, Uganda, because she did not obtain a visa to enter the USA.
Our intention was to inform, to share best practices and to analyse current knowledge on homophobia and education.
Some facts that emerged during the presentation of our speakers and the interaction with an audience of about 70 people were:
- Masculine girls in Canada are bullied more than feminine boys, and they are being bullied by other girls.
- Girls in Uganda learn that LGBTI people are dangerous and evil. When they find they are lesbian, many turn to suicide. If a child is outed at school, it means immediate dismissal, so many of our LGBTI youth are not getting an education.
- Only 5 lawyers in Uganda are willing to take on LGBTI court cases
- In Namibia it is illegal to approach children and young people under 18 and talk about sexuality. However, informally LGBTI groups approach school directors to raise awareness on sexual minorities.
- In schools where there are Gay Straight Alliances in Canada, there is less abuse of sexual minorities.
Outcomes of the side event:
- We do not have enough research into this issue and we have to share the research we have.
- We need to aim at safer schools for ALL: LGBT people, ethnic, disabled and other minorities
- Trade unions have excellent materials on working with LGBTI issues in schools
- Teachers need to get specific training along their whole career on dealing with diversity in the classroom
- Next CSW is on Education and Training. We need to prepare a strong panel to address the issues – perhaps working with government delegations.
The general presentation of the workshop and two presentations are available from ILGA’s website: