» Countries support a Call for Action on homophobic and transphobic violence
17.10.2016 - Education Sector

Countries support a Call for Action on homophobic and transphobic violence

© UNESCO/Minister for Education for Uruguay, Maria Julia Muñoz, affirmed support for the Call for Action by Ministers during a visit with UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova

In one of the largest shows of political will to end homophobic and transphobic violence in education, ministers from across the world have affirmed a Call for Action.

Countries continue to add their support to the Call for Action which was issued at the end of a two-day International Ministerial Meeting on violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, at UNESCO in Paris, from 17-18 May, 2016. The meeting drew together Ministers and representatives from government, civil society, UN agencies and other multi-lateral agencies, with a total of 67 countries represented.   

The Call for Action commits countries to strengthening and scaling-up education sector responses to homophobic and transphobic violence, ensuring schools are places where children and young people can learn free from threats and violence. The full list of countries which have endorsed the Call for Action by Ministers can be viewed here.

UNESCO’s Out In The Open global report on the theme shows that students who are perceived not to confirm to prevailing sexual and gender norms, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) are particularly vulnerable to violence in educational settings. In the United States, 85 per cent of LGBT students experienced homophobic and transphobic violence in school. Students who are not LGBT but whose gender expression is seen as non-conforming are also targets, for example in Thailand, 24 per cent of heterosexual students experienced this violence 


Zero tolerance for all forms of bullying

Referring to the UNESCO meeting in May, the Minister of Education and Research from Norway, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, said: “This is not only terrible for every student or parent involved, it is also a serious problem for our societies. We must have zero-tolerance for bullying of any sort, and pay particular attention to already vulnerable groups," he said.

Denmark’s Minister for Children, Education and Gender Equality, Action, Ms. Ellen Trane Nørby, said school-related homophobic and transphobic bullying has severe consequences for children and young people’s well-being and future prospects.

The Call for Action by Ministers is featured in a new publication by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children (OSRSG), on the protection of children from bullying and cyberbullying, released during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in October 2016.

Countries are still able to confirm their support for the Call for Action by Ministers. UNESCO permanent delegations should contact Mr Christophe Cornu, Section of Health and Education c.cornu(at)unesco.org and Mr Yongfeng Liu yf.liu(at)unesco.org.


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