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Voices from the UNESCO report From Insult to Inclusion

UNESCO’s report, “From Insult to Inclusion”, draws on a diverse body of research conducted in countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region on issues related to bullying and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. These voices are drawn from these studies.

Links to the original research can be found in the study, “From Insult to Inclusion:  Asia-Pacific report on school bullying, violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity”: 

[Taunts] were nothing unless they caught me’: School bullying and violence

“Going to school was an ordeal. I was treated as if I were an object with no feelings. I did not think education was worth all the taunts, jeers and threats I had to face on a daily basis.”
-Khurram, gay man, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

“In middle school, I always suffered verbal and physical abuse. They not only called me queer, but also sneered at me, made fun of me and bullied me ceaselessly, and even forced me to undress myself to humiliate me. I tried to endure, but the bullying seemed endless.”
-19-year-old gay male student at a technical college, China

“…It was common for school children to be called, ‘Hey, girl. Hey gay.’ It is nothing unless they caught me and punched me in my stomach. When a teacher says, ‘So girly, my classmates laughed. I wondered whether the teacher knew she caused embarrassment to me and caused an uncomfortable situation for me in class. I missed classes because of these insults by others. There were many cases of other gay boys who left school.”
-Gay man, Mongolia

“My childhood was all sunk in desperation day after day. Each school day went terribly because I was teased by schoolmates. Wherever I was, I suffered finger points, bullying, or having stone or slippers thrown by them. They laughed at me by yelling ‘hey pe-de’.”
-Transgender young person, Viet Nam

“The hardest part was when people would use words like ‘gay’ and ‘homo’ to mean bad… I found this even harder to deal with than outright homophobia because while such usage is not a personal attack, it implies that it is bad to be gay.”
-Dan, 18 years, New Zealand

‘They told me they’d only take male or female candidates’: Institutional discrimination and exclusion

“I tried to apply for high school... The school said to me that they could not accept me after seeing my gender listed as a woman on the health insurance card because they didn’t have any precedent of having a transgender student and didn’t want any trouble [sic] to happen to me.”
-Hiroto, a transgender man, Japan

“I was told that the rules of the university require us to cut our hair, conceal our breasts and dress as males during the graduation ceremony. We complained about the discriminatory rules for wearing male attire. The university replied that people who have already completed their sex change operation can wear female dress, but otherwise we must wear male clothes.”
-Transgender young woman, Thailand

“The school manager told me they’d only take male or female candidates. As I appeared to be
‘in-between’ he was afraid that I would have problems getting along with other students.” 
-Transgender young person, Viet Nam 

‘Every day my thoughts were only on how to kill myself’ Impact of school bullying, violence and discrimination 

“When I was in high school, a girl in my class and another girl in the class in front of ours dated each other…in the end, both dropped out. Both the way the school dealt with the case and we were very violent. At the time, I pointed the finger at them too. ‘Right now, in such a situation, I mustn’t be found out, and I must protect myself all the more,’ I thought.”
-Same-sex attracted man, Republic of Korea

“I can’t really focus on my classes. I normally worry about trivialities… it’s like ‘Huh, why do they have to blame me, do something like this to me?’ I get stressed and like, I feel I don’t understand anything in class. It’s psychological pressure. It affects my mind.”
-Tom (transgender man) secondary school student, Thailand

“…One of my former classmates fabricated a lot of rumors… That experience was horrific torture for me and every day my thoughts were only on how to kill myself. Once I attempted to jump off a building to commit suicide but was stopped by others. I was greatly depressed and began cutting my fingers with a knife. I felt that the whole world has turned against me and nobody was willing to help.”
-24 year old lesbian woman, China

“Though the school promotes strength and intelligence in women, we are told to be ‘lady-like’ and our sex-ed was appalling—abstinence was encouraged, STDs were discussed briefly and there was no mention of same sex issues, our bodies are shamed.”
-18 year old gender questioning young person in an all-girls school in Australia

‘I did not trust the school’s administration’: Education sector responses 

“If educational institutions can create a supportive study environment then this will motivate transgender people to complete their higher education, so they can hold professional positions in society”.
-Transgender young woman, Thailand

“I had decided not to approach any school counsellors because I did not trust the school’s administration on their ability to maintain an impartial stance and professionalism towards homosexuality… I urge the Ministry of Education to investigate, isolate school counsellors from the school administration and provide professional training on sexuality…”
-25 year old gay man, Singapore

“I knew it would be a challenge for teachers and schools initially to teach children with proper knowledge and confidence. However, we have already started helping them out, and this year we would need to expand our efforts much more. While schools are understandably nervous, they are happy that these issues are being covered.”
-Sunil Pant, Founder of the Blue Diamond Society, a former legislator, prominent LGBT rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize nominee

“We appeal and encourage principals at various universities to play a positive role in gender equality education, to face up [to] the basic demands of sexual-minority students including gays, bisexuals and transgenders….When gay students are facing bullies, please guarantee their rights and offer them psychological support. When the university’s regulations violate the rights of gay students, please be brave [and] make changes.”
-Excerpts of a petition from student activists, China

“In Fiji there is a behavior management policy for schools but it needs to be strengthened to include all forms of homophobic bullying. Enforcement and policing of the anti-bullying policy is very weak. There should be policies requiring all complaints to be taken seriously and investigated by school authorities [‘no drop’ policies]. Disciplinary penalties for perpetrators should be harsh enough to deter recurrence of bullying behaviour. Counselling and peer support should be offered to victims. Students should be able to access the formal justice system if the school response fails.” 
-Gay man, Fiji

“[Our research regarding] LGBTI students’ experiences of education showed that schools with protective policies in place directly naming homophobic bullying significantly reduced violence and halved their risk of suicide. I would like to see more policy protection in Asia-Pacific schools.”
-Dr Tiffany Jones, Senior Lecturer, University of New England and La Trobe Universities, Australia

“Finding the confidence to transition and be myself was so important. Having support is too. Other students looking for support should try joining some sexuality and gender diversity groups in your area or online and establish a good support base if possible, like staff at school, friends or family. It’s scary, but for me it was totally worth it. I’m living how I wanted to live for my whole life.”
-Transgender high school student transitioning in Western Australia


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