IDAHOBIT 2023: Education trade unions: United in diversity!


Today, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), ETUCE is celebrating the important role that education trade unions play in promoting the positive inclusion of LGBTI students, teachers, academics and other education personnel within education institutions, education trade unions and society in general. At a time when hard-won advances for LGBTI communities around the globe are increasingly under threat, the theme for this edition of IDAHOBIT “Together always: united in diversity” speaks to the heart of education trade unions in the European region.  

The recently published 2023 Rainbow Europe Map and Index by ILGA Europe shows important progress made in terms of laws, policies and social acceptance of LGBTI rights. However, public discourse is becoming more polarised and violent, particularly against trans people. The Annual report shows that the education system is a growing battleground in the resistance to LGBTI people and rights and in many European countries, progress on sexual education has been challenged by anti-LGBTI political discourse. Moreover, the review mentions issues of lack of teacher training to address LGBTI-phobic intolerance in schools, of discrimination and harassment from fellow students, school staff and teachers. Indeed, for example, nearly half of respondents aged 15 to 17 who have experienced discrimination for being LGBTI, have felt discriminated against at school. The report also alerts us of the targeting of LGBTI and –friendly teachers by far-right movements in certain countries. The latter is very worrisome as over one in four people in the EU feel the need to hide being LGBTI at work, and over 20% of LGBTI persons have felt discriminated against at work. The importance of fostering inclusive and LGBTI accepting education is highlighted within the EU’s LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025. “Solidarity and equity are the cornerstone of trade unions. As education trade unions, we must fight for diversity, not only in the education system, but also within our organisations, by encouraging and supporting LGBTI teachers, academics and other education personnel to join and actively participate”, says ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken.

This year, EI, as a member of the LGBTI Working Group of the Council of Global Unions, is taking a joint approach with the other Global Union Federations, to collectively show solidarity across sectors under the theme “Solidarity: everyone belongs in our union”. ETUCE and EI are happy to celebrate the diversity of identities on this day – in the education sector, unions, and in society overall.

Following the commitments expressed in the ETUCE Action Plan on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, education trade unions in Europe lead in condemning LGBTI prejudices, bullying and discrimination, promote and support measures to achieve LGBTI visibility and inclusion in the education system. Around the IDAHOBIT this year, ETUCE member organisations organise research conferences, discussions with affiliates, and working groups to raise the awareness and knowledge about sexual orientation and gender identity issues, as well as launch campaigns and statements to ensure that educational institutions are inclusive and welcoming places for all.