Breaking the silence: ETUCE marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2020


17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). On Sunday, under this year’s topic, ‘Breaking the silence’, LGBTI people across the world will speak up to share their experiences and challenges they face. More effort is also needed in the education sector in Europe to break the persisting taboos surrounding the LGBTI community and sexual education.

The European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) just published the world’s biggest survey on discrimination and hate experiences of LGBTI people across the EU, collecting stories from 140 000 LGBTI people on their everyday experiences. The results show that LGBTI people live more openly than in 2012; but at the same time, more feel discriminated in various areas of life. Many still sense the “need to conceal their identity to avoid discrimination, hate or even violence”.

Together with other international trade union organisations, EI issues a statement against disparities and discrimination of LGBTI people in the world of work because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The statement calls to stand up for LGBTI workers and their rights, which are under even higher threats in times of COVID-19, as the crisis has been increasing barriers to access health services, stigmatisation, and hate speech.

ETUCE member organisations are committed to strengthening the rights of LGBTI people, especially in the education sector: education institutions should provide a safe space free from bullying and exclusion. With the view of promoting high quality and accessible public education to all, the ETUCE Special Conference adopted the Resolution on establishing the Action Plan on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in 2018. The Action Plan is to be presented at the ETUCE Conference in December2020, also addressing ways to improve equality and inclusion of LGBTI teachers and students.

ETUCE research shows that discussing LGBTI issues openly in educational settings remains a huge challenge for some teachers and other education staff. The new ETUCE project “Education Trade Unions and Inclusive Schools: Embracing Diversity in Education” therefore aims at capacity building for education trade unions, so they can prepare their members to address the many forms of diversity encountered in the classroom and society.

Many ETUCE member organisations are disseminating articles (e.g. UEN, UNSA) and social media material online to mark IDAHOT 2020 even in the difficult circumstance of the pandemic when the usual Pride Parades are cancelled. The education trade union FECCOO from Spain will launch an online campaign with at its centre a tale for children adapted to different educational stages that aims at introducing children to the world of diversity in its broadest sense, with a special focus on LGBTI and families. The tale is accompanied by a pedagogical manual for teachers with proposals for working online or in the classroom and with families. FETE UGT from Spain together with Aula Intercultural work on a guide that dedicates each month an inspiring person. This month is dedicated to Avery Jackson, a transgender girl fighting for more equality and tolerance. They also provide more material on diversity on their website. GEW from Germany will support a virtual rainbow flash initiated by the German Federation of Lesbian and Gay People (LSVD) in Hamburg.

In light of Pride Parades in Europe being cancelled due to COVID-19, ETUCE stands with its member organisations to mark this day in solidarity and joins teachers and other education staff in celebrating LGBTI people across the world this Sunday.