UNESCO leads new anti-bullying initiative
UNESCO has launched the United Nations’ first-ever international consultation to address bullying against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students in schools and universities. Recent studies such as the Council of Europe’s Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Europe have identified pervasive homophobic and transphobic attitudes around the world, leaving LGBT people vulnerable to alarmingly high rates of hate crimes, discrimination and violence based on their sexual orientation.
In the United States, more than 90 per cent of LGBT students say they have been subjected to homophobic harassment; in New Zealand 98 per cent of LGBT people say they have been verbally or physically abused at school. This homophobic violence violates the right of young people to education and safe learning environments.
As a result of stigma and discrimination at school, young people who are subjected to homophobic bullying are more likely to drop out. They are also more likely to contemplate self-harm, commit suicide, and engage in activities or behaviours that pose a risk to their health.
The consultation will take place between 6 and 9 December in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will explore how to best support LGBT students and teachers, prevent and address homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools, and ensure LGBT-safe learning environments. The initiative is examining existing policies and programmes around the world in order to share best practices with ministries of education.