11.05.2012 - UNESCOPRESS

Meeting on Effective Policies and Practices to Address Homophobic Bullying in Educational Institutions 16 May 2012


Few countries have collected data on homophobic bullying in educational institutions, but there is evidence that pupils are subjected to verbal and physical abuse and social isolation in every part of the world. Students who are perceived not to conform to prevailing sexual and gender norms, including those believed to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, are denied the basic right to education because of bullying.

This has been described as a “moral outrage, a grave violation of human rights,” by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. He has urged countries to “take the necessary measures to protect people – all people - from violence and discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

A meeting on Effective Policy and Practice to Address Homophobic Bullying in Educational Institutions will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 16 May (Room IV, 1.30 – 6 p.m.), on the eve of International Day Against Homophobia/Transphobia (IDAHO), celebrated around the world since 2005 and organized by the IDAHO Committee.

This year’s International Day will be dedicated to “Combating Homophobia/Transphobia in and through Education”. The UNESCO meeting will feature the launch of Good Policy and Practice in HIV and Health Education – Booklet 8: Education Sector Responses to Homophobic Bullying (GPP8) and the IDAHO Lesson Plan.           

UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information, Eric Falt will open the meeting and other key speakers at the event will include Louis-George Tin, founder of IDAHO and President of the IDAHO Committee, and Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education.

The meeting will include a series of presentations and round-tables based on the main themes of the GPP8 publication:

  • Nature and scale of homophobic bullying in educational institutions in the world
  • Effective approaches and entry points to address homophobic bullying in educational institutions
  • Methods to develop and enforce policies to address homophobic bullying
  • Curriculum design and teaching methods
  • Teacher training and support
  • Examples of education institution-based services for victims of bullying, bullies and bystanders
  • Examples of successful partnerships between the education system and communities, including parents, learners, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organizations, unions, among others.

UNESCO will also launch the IDAHO Lesson Plan, a collection of four activities for educators to use with primary and secondary level learners to create safer learning environments, address discrimination and encourage respect and tolerance between and amongst learners.

Experts and development partners with extensive experience in addressing homophobic bullying in educational institutions are expected to attend the meeting. They will be able to connect, share ideas and discuss future collaboration during a separate meeting in the morning, also at UNESCO.

UNESCO will broadcast the meeting via Live video transmission; with interpretation in English and in French (16 May, 1pm-6pm GMT+2).

UNESCO’s engagement to addressing the issue of homophobic bullying and recognizing the scale of the problem, reflects its commitment to the principles and goals of Education for All (EFA), building on its engagement with stopping violence in schools, and its work to address all forms of discrimination and gender-based violence, and its expertise in HIV and sexuality education.

The present meeting follows up on a consultation convened by UNESCO in Rio de Janeiro in December 2011, the United Nations’ first-ever international consultation to address homophobia in educational institutions. It brought together experts from UN agencies, NGOs, ministries of education and academia from more than 25 countries around the world. The consultation produced striking evidence on the extent of homophobic bullying in educational institutions worldwide and enabled experts to share many examples of good practice in terms of policy and interventions to prevent and address homophobic bullying in educational institutions globally.


                             For more information, please contact:

                                              Sue Williams

                                         Tel: +33 1 45 68 17 06


      Journalists wishing to cover the meeting should request accreditation from:
             Isabelle Le Fournis: i.le-fournis(at)unescoo.org, +33 (0)1 45 6817 48

                                                   See also:

                              UNESCO's page on Homophobic Bullying

               International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia website

          International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia Facebook page

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