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LGBTI Caucus examines victories & setbacks, mobilisation strategies to advance human rights

The first caucus in the runup to the Education International Congress focused on LGBTI rights and how to support them through alliances with like-minded groups towards a common discourse and goal.

It is important that LGBTI rights be a priority on trade union organisations’ agendas. In fact, more LGBTI people should hold leadership positions within unions in order to keep the light on the challenges they face in terms of human rights, violence and harassment. It’s not just about gay rights - it’s about fundamental human rights.

Delegates also heard how the interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class, sexual orientation, religion and gender overlap to create further discrimination or disadvantage towards LBGTI students and teachers. Intersectionality was described as being presentat three levels of society -- individually, symbolically (how LGBTI people are represented in the media and social media), and structurally within institutions, in terms of procedures and policies.

‘It’s in the dark corners that prejudice thrives. It is up to trade unions to shed a light on it.”

That statement from one of the panelists on violence & harassment in the world of work resonated strongly among delegates present at the forum. Panelists further described the situation in the United States as the Trump administration continues to implement regressive right-wing measures which take the clock back to the 60s in terms of gains in human rights. In England, violence and bullying on social media is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed. In Australia, the teacher union was effective in its “Vote Yes” campaign for affirming LGBTI rights.

Overall, much needs to be achieved as this is an ongoing challenge for educators and students. We have to ensure solidarity, build relationships with community partners and underscore teacher unions’ work to advance LGBTI rights

As one of today’s panelists said: “Long journeys start with a first step. Make small inroads by using tools available to make progress. Change can happen when people start having a discussion”