Philippines: teacher unions commit to take action for inclusion and safe schools for all

Educators from Education International’s Filipino affiliates have crafted action plans aiming to embrace diversity and promote safe schools for all, including lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex teachers and learners, as a follow-up to the 2017 Resolution on Advancing LGBTI Rights of Education International’s Asia-Pacific region.

Dispelling the myths developed around LGBTI people

A capacity-building workshop entitled “Teacher Unions for Inclusion: Embracing diversity and promoting safe schools”, led by Education International Asia-Pacific (EIAP) regional office and supported by UNESCO Bangkok, aimed to increase teachers’ awareness of the rights and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) people and to discuss the role of unions in promoting inclusive education. It was held from 24–25 October in Quezon City.

Chief Regional Coordinator Shashi Bala Singh and facilitator Ging Cristobal, Asia Pacific Project Coordinator, OutRight Action International, together with education union leaders the event began with activities allowing participants to understand the stereotypes, stigma, prejudice and discrimination working against LGBTI persons, and to dispel the myths that have been created concerning LGBTI people, as well as sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sexual behaviour.

Cristobal also led a case analysis activity involving gender-related violence in schools and updated participants on gender-related laws in the Philippines and more recent calls for the enactment of a national anti-discrimination law.

“The discrimination [of LGBTI communities] is evident in education too and affects the lives of teachers, researchers, educational support staff, as well as the children and young people we teach. The Sustainable Development Goal 4 of the Education 2030 Agenda adopted in 2015 clearly defines the goal to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. It will however not be achieved if the right to education as one of the LGBTI community’s fundamental human rights is not secured and ensured,” EIAP Chief Regional Coordinator Shashi Bala Singh highlighted.

Singh added that it is the teachers and their unions’ obligation to work together to champion LGBTI rights, raise awareness on human rights, gender and sexual diversity, and lobby governments to end laws criminalising and discriminating against LGBTI people.

The establishment of LGBTI or gender committees and groups in the unions’ structure, the organisation of gender-sensitivity training, and training of prospective trainers on gender issues are among strategies devised by participants to raise trade union members’ awareness on and institutionalise their trade unions’ responses to LGBTI issues. Extending the action beyond their trade unions, participants also committed to promote LGBTI concerns through information campaigns targeting their unions’ members, school administrators, school staff and students through seminars and social media, brochures and posters.

A related activity led by the EIAP regional office and supported by UNESCO Bangkok will also be organised for education unions in Fiji.

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