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PRESS RELEASE: ‘From Insult to Inclusion’: UNESCO launches first regional review of LGBTI bullying in Asia-Pacific schools

19.11.2015

Forty country review examines extent and impact of abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression and highlights deficiencies in education sector response

BANGKOK, 19 NOVEMBER, 2015 Bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) learners is widespread in Asia-Pacific and the response from the education sector to this problem is inadequate, according to a report released today by UNESCO Bangkok.

“From Insult to Inclusion: Asia-Pacific report on school bullying, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” 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 details the extent of the problem in Asia-Pacific, the devastating impact of this type of abuse, and the measures governments are taking and could take to address it.

“From Insult to Inclusion” draws on more than 500 published and unpublished documents, peer-reviewed literature and media reports from around 40 countries in Asia-Pacific, as well as direct input from dozens of key stakeholders in the region and feedback from a regional consultation involving more than 100 people from 13 countries hosted by UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in June of 2015. 

UNESCO Bangkok Director Gwang-Jo Kim 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”.

“The right to a safe and inclusive education is not the prerogative of those who fall into the broadest groupings of our respective societies,” Mr Kim said. “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.”

While most Asia-Pacific governments have committed to ensuring every child’s 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.

The report finds that the majority of LGBTI youth in Asia-Pacific say they 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. The impact of this abuse on learners is devastating, with some country studies cited in the report showing that 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.

Justine Sass, Asia-Pacific Regional HIV and Health Education Adviser for UNESCO Bangkok, said that the report is a call to action to address bullying, the impacts of which reverberate from the personal level through to wider society.

“There is a significant body of research in ‘From Insult to Inclusion’ indicating that SOGIE-based bullying, violence and discrimination is pervasive, and has a toxic and long-lasting impact on learners as well as on school communities,” Ms Sass said. “Ministries of education have to do their part to creating safe and inclusive learning environments in which all students can thrive.” 

“From Insult to Inclusion” 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. 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.

UNESCO Bangkok and the UNDP have partnered to offer targeted support in China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand and will be supporting national consultations in those countries to advance action to address areas identified in the study.  

The report was launched at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand at a special event that included a panel discussion in which an LGBTI learner shared her experiences in dealing with the challenges outlined in “From Insult to Inclusion”.


Resources:

“From Insult to Inclusion”, full report: goo.gl/X46rad

Executive Summary: goo.gl/16y2AL

Infographic of report highlights: goo.gl/2PJLo1    

Key findings from the report: goo.gl/uiojdN

Voices – Quotes from LGBTI youth in report: goo.gl/TfXMzN

Bios of FCCT launch participants: goo.gl/V88A0K

Bias & Bullying: Voices from Asia-Pacific classrooms (Video)

Imagine That (Video)

Teachers Matter (Video)

You Are Loved (Video)


MEDIA CONTACT:
Noel Boivin, UNESCO Bangkok Media and Communications Officer, n.boivin@unesco.org