Taking one step ahead : UNESCO launches first regional review report of LGBTI bullying in Asia-Pacific schools

“From Insult to Inclusion: Asia-Pacific report on school bullying, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” is the report released by UNESCO at a special event which was held at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. The event also included a panel discussion in which an LGBTI learner shared her experiences in dealing with the challenges outlined in ‘From Insult to Inclusion’ report.

unesco report on lgbti bullying
Image Source – UNESCO Bangkok Website

The report is based on bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) learners in the Asia-Pacific region and the response from education sector to this problem is inadequate. The report is the first comprehensive regional review to focus specifically on the issue of bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE).

The Report in detail deals with the extent of the problems in Asia-Pacific, the devastating impact of this type of abuse and the measures governments are taking and could take to address it. The “From Insult to Inclusion” features more than 500 published and unpublished documents, peer-reviewed literature and media reports from around 40 countries in Asia-Pacific. It also contains direct input from dozens of key stakeholders in the region and feedback from a regional consultation which involved more than 100 people from 13 countries. The survey was hosted by UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in June 2015.

UNESCO Bangkok and the UNDP have collaborated to offer targeted support in China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. They have also agreed to support national consultations in those countries to advance action to address areas identified in the study. The study found that in Asia-Pacific only Australia and New Zealand have institutionalized evidence-based and whole-school responses that provide protection for LGBTI persons and that only a few countries have integrated SOGIE issues into national curricula.

As per the Report maximum of LGBTI youth in Asia-Pacific have been subjected to some form of violence or bullying in school – in some countries as many as four out of five LGBTI learners are affected. As per the studies featured in the report in few countries one in three LGBTI learners report depression, while up to seven in 10 report harming themselves and nearly five in 10 say they have attempted suicide. So on the whole the impact of this abuse on learners is devastating.

Though most of the Asia-Pacific governments assured that every child has right to a quality education without discrimination or exclusion, the realities faced by LGBTI learners in Asia-Pacific schools show that many are failing to live up to these pledges. ‘From Insult to Inclusion’ also presents personal accounts of LGBTI learners who have faced these challenges, along with a look at the broader legal and educational contexts in countries throughout the region related to bullying on the basis of SOGIE.

Gwang-Jo Kim, UNESCO Bangkok Director said the report was timely, coming as it does at the outset of a new global education agenda centered on the fourth Sustainable Development Goal, which calls for ‘inclusive and quality education for all’. Further Kim added, “The right to a safe and inclusive education is not the prerogative of those who fall into the broadest groupings of our respective societies.” He continued saying, “The power of education and its transformative potential lies in the broadness of its reach, in the potential it has to impact the lives of those who may otherwise be considered in the margins of society, and indeed to change social norms and practices towards inclusive and respectful societies.”

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