First European LGBTI Equality Strategy: a step towards a more inclusive society


On 12 November, the European Commission published the first European LGBTI Equality Strategy 2020-2025, following the European Commission Work Programme 2020, as part of the actions on equality and non-discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, and intersex people. The plan sets a series of actions based on four macro-domains: tackling discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics; ensuring safety; building inclusive societies; and leading the call for LGBTI equality around the world. It also includes, among other measures, combating discrimination against LGBTI students and teachers in education.   

ETUCE welcomes the strategy and the EU Commission’s commitment to mainstreaming LGBTI equality in all policy areas and, particularly, in education. Indeed, creating inclusive education environments is key to foster the development of inclusive and democratic societies that consider diversity as an added value and protect every person from discrimination and inequality. The European research shows that policies, prejudices, bullying and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity against LGBTI students and teachers persist within and outside of education institutions. Combating discrimination against LGBTI people, as well as other marginalised groups, continues therefore to be important.

Nevertheless, ETUCE regrets that the strategy does not adequately value the role of teachers in creating inclusive learning environments and addressing discrimination towards LGBTI persons at school. While some teachers, school leaders and education authorities are still reluctant to raise awareness on sexual and gender diversity and to provide sex education, teachers are usually not adequately trained to combat homophobic and transphobic bullying, harassment and violence against LGBTI persons. ETUCE highlights that it is of utmost importance to provide teachers with adequate training on LGBTI inclusive education and develop pedagogical tools to tackle any form of discrimination at School. ETUCE welcomes that the EU foresees to strengthen funding programmes supporting activities that combat inequality and discrimination against LGBTI people, but also expect concrete targeted measures to provide teachers with initial and continuous professional training, both at national and European level.

A family of 127 education trade unions in Europe, ETUCE has a long-standing commitment to supporting teachers and other education personnel in creating a quality equal and inclusive learning environment for all. With this goal, the new ETUCE project ‘Education Trade Unions and Inclusive Schools: Embracing Diversity in Education’ brings together education trade unions to share experiences and to find strategies for creating more inclusive schools. Among the actions, ETUCE is collecting good practices from education trade unions to enrich the Database of Good Practices with a more comprehensive approach. The upcoming research report will contribute to implementing the ETUCE Action Plan on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Commenting on the publication, Susan Flocken, European Director, says: “The  LGBTI strategy 2020-2025 is a step forward to LGBTI students’ and teachers’ equality, but we have a long way to go before achieving full inclusion in education and society. We demand a more prominent and active participation for education trade unions in the implementation of the European LGBTI Equality strategy 2020-2025 and that   education employers be held accountable for ensuring a safe and healthy working environment for LGBTI teachers, academics and other education personnel .”