Education trade unions: Together for LGBTI Inclusive Education and Society!

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On 17 May 2021, ETUCE celebrates the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) by following the international theme “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!” and calling on all stakeholders in education to unite their efforts for LGBTI inclusive education and society. Under the slogan ‘Together for LGBTI Inclusive Education!’, education trade unions reconfirm their commitment to promoting the positive inclusion of LGBTI students and education personnel in education institutions and in society, and demand to provide sufficient support to education personnel in addressing homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Trade unions’ national activities, together with testimonies from teachers implementing and promoting the LGBTI inclusive education, are shared on the ETUCE website and social media in the framework of the project ‘Trade Unions and Inclusive Schools: Embracing Diversity in Education’. 

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The past year was marked by the adoption of the first European LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025 launched by the European Commission to address such issues as discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; ensuring safety; building inclusive societies; and leading the call for LGBTI equality around the world. It was a significant step towards mainstreaming LGBTI equality in all policy areas and, particularly, in education. However, education trade unions continue reporting that some teachers, school leaders and education authorities are still reluctant to raise awareness on sexual and gender diversity and to provide sex education, while education personnel are not adequately trained to combat homophobic and transphobic bullying, harassment and violence against LGBTI persons.

On the IDAHOBIT 2021, Susan Flocken, European Director underlines: “Education personnel and education trade unions are essential for creating inclusive learning environments, combatting LGBTI prejudices, bullying and discrimination, as well as promoting and supporting measures to achieve LGBTI visibility and inclusion in the education system. They need to be supported by the education authorities, relevant legislation and an approach that includes the whole community o given education institution Education personnel need adequate training on LGBTI inclusive education”.

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This year, the COVID-19 pandemic, and linked to it national lockdown measures, have deepened the gaps in terms of lived realities of LGBTI people in many European countries leading to a stark rise in abuse and hate speech against LGBTI people, including government authorities and officials using LGBT people as scapegoats. In these circumstances, ETUCE highlights an urgent need to implement rigorously the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy on the European and national level focusing especially on:

  • combatting homophobic and transphobic bullying in education institutions and in the society;
  • providing for a greater accountability of education employers to ensure a safe, secure and healthy working environment for LGBTI teachers, academics and other education personnel;
  • equipping teachers and other education personnel with the skills to develop an LGBTI inclusive education;
  • and providing a clear space for a more prominent and active participation of education trade unions in the implementation of the Strategy on all European, national, regional and institutional level.