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on...

Education

no.2 June / 2007


Dear readers and friends,

Index:

IGLYO on... Education

We are welcoming Summer with the new release of the IGLYO magazine, and we'd like to thank all of you who sent feedback after the first issue. We really appreciate all the contributions we got. Back in April this year, yea the joint Study Session with OBESSU (the European Secondary School Students’ Union) explored LGBTfriendly policies in European secondary schools. Following this, we wanted this new issue to focus on the important topic of education. Whenever it comes to LGBTQ rights, education stands in the way of the improvement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer young people. A sustainable approach to LGBTQ rights for us, the young generations, must take education as fundamental. This publication gathers many looks on educational issues: first the Board will present IGLYO’s position on educational matters; then two higher education activists from ANSO (the Association of Nordic LGBT Student Organizations) will share their thoughts; a brief overlook on the situation in Poland; finally, two of our member organisations as well as one of their partners will present their work around Education (the BeLonG-To youth group and GLEN in Ireland, and LeGeBiTra in Slovenia). We welcome your feedback and we wish you again a happy reading. The IGLYO Board Lucy, Björn, Bruno, Darren & Fabio

International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth & Student Organisation p.o. BOX 3836 - 1001 AP Amsterdam The Netherlands info@iglyo.com - www.iglyo.com Bank Account: 678594953 ING Bank - Amsterdam-Centrum Herengracht 580, 1017 CJ, AMSTERDAM (The Netherlands) IBAN: NL59 INGB 0678 5949 53 BIC (Swift): INGBNL2A

TABLE OF CONTENTS Education: a Priority for LGBTQ Rights by Bruno Selun

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LGBT Youth in Higher Educational by Ásta Ósk & Linda Elstad

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Promoting homophobia in education by Marta Abramowicz

Sharing Practices

- BeLonG-To & GLEN / Ireland - LeGeBiTra / Slovenia

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IGLYO on... No.2, June 2007 Project Coordinator: Fabio Saccà Editor: Bruno Selun Contributors: Marta Abramowicz, Linda Elstad, Sandra Gowran, Eoghan Howe, Maja Mojskerc, Ásta Ósk Hlöðversdóttir Proofreading: Christopher Beaton Design & Layout: Assaf Arbel, www.assafarbel.com Printer: NUOVAGRAFICA, www.tipolitonuovagrafica.it

Extra resources and further readings to this edition on www.iglyo.com page 2

© 2007 IGLYO. Reproduction permitted, provided that appropriate reference is made to the source. This newletter is published with the support of the European Youth Fundation and the European Commission. The information contained in this publication does not necessarily reflect the position of opinion of the European Commission or of the Council of Europe. They are not liable for any use that may be made of this information.

IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007


Education: A Priority for LGBTQ Rights by Bruno Selun

For those not yet aware, sixty-one percent of young LGBT people in Europe have already experienced prejudice or discrimination at school. It means that in Europe, school beats family (51.2%), community (37.7%) and friends’ circle (29.8%) as the most unfriendly place for LGBT youngsters—we would like to congratulate politicians, policy-makers, blind teachers and conservative parents for this outstanding performance. But it would be unfair to blame this solely on “the others”. We, young people, do have a responsibility in the state of school nowadays. Although we are rarely asked for an opinion in educational settings, it is our responsibility to voice our many and sometimes contradictory views, and our responsibility to stand up and make sure they are listened to. In this light, the current IGLYO Board has made a priority of education; as the most unfriendly place for LGBTQ youth in Europe, school and education has had our focus to voice young people’s vision of and in these institutions. It is also worthwhile to note that in the consultation process we are currently undergoing, our members also consider education a priority. This will lead to even more concrete measures, should the Strategic Plan for 2008-2010 be adopted by the next General Meeting of Members. We aim to act constructively in a number of ways to make education better for young people in Europe-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and straight. Political lobbying at European and national levels One of the most important activities in the backstage is our endless lobbying with political leaders, mostly at the European level, for the inclusion of youth and LGBTQ rights in Human Rights frameworks and educational policies. This is done either directly, by attending political meetings and representing the voices of over fifty member organisations. But most often, it happens indirectly through strong partnerships with bigger more political organisations such as ILGA-Europe, the LGBT Intergroup of the European Parliament, our political partners such as the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, or youth groups of European political parties such as ECOSY or YEPP. or the Young Eurpean Greens. In the event of a particular national situation, for instance with Poland for the past years, IGLYO’s member organisations call for a European lobby to make things change in their country. In that precise case, IGLYO has been lobbying the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the Commission, as well as national entities in other European countries so they would exert pressure on Polish leaders. IGLYO On...Education - no.2 / June 2007

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Education, a Priority for LGBTQ Rights

In the IGLYO Board since September 2006, Bruno Selun has been working on educational issues for the past 3 years, and studies Education and Philosophy in London.

IGLYO:

Sam, Émile, Julia, Ahmed, Alicia and Joe don’t have it easy at school, unlike four other friends who enjoy school much more. Every six of them feel something is wrong, and this since about when they left primary school. For Émile, it was “mostly in secondary school, a lot of remarks, insults even when I didn’t know my sexual orientation yet”. When the topic wasn’t completely blanked out, Alicia recalls, that “teachers told [them] degrading stories and dirty jokes from their life about their experiences of meeting LGBT people”. But oftentimes it would be more explicit and violent, like for Ahmed, who recalls: “They threw things at me, spat on me, damaged my belongings.” But the biggest problem was, really, silence and active ignorance. As Sam put it, “silence is the worst form of discrimination”.


Education, a Priority for LGBTQ Rights

IGLYO:

Evidence-based research and collection of best practices One of the most successful projects IGLYO ever undertook has been the Social Exclusion report, in a very successful partnership with ILGA-Europe. For the first time, it showed to European politicians, educational policy-makers, and LGBTQ/Human Rights activists that 53% of LGBT young people in Europe have already been bullied at school because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The report was so successful that it required re-printing, and both IGLYO and ILGA-Europe are still receiving requests for the presentation of these results. Among other places, the research was presented at the European Parliament, and has since then been used repeatedly as a lobbying tool. Well, good news! IGLYO just secured funding for another project of the same kind, this time focusing on education. We will look at the situation in European countries, and compile a research a similar way to the Social Exclusion report. Partnership with European non-governn mental youth organisations in education Two of our most successful partnerships are with OBESSU, the Organising Bureau of European Secondary School Student unions, and ESU (formerly ESIB), the European Students’ Union. They are crucial, as they allow us to connect with European pupil and student unions; this is of mutual benefit: IGLYO thus hears the diverse voices of young people specialised in educational issues, and it allows both OBESSU and ESU to include LGBTQ issues in their political agenda. An instance of this partnership was the organisation, in April 2007, of a joint study session with OBESSU on the theme “Understanding, Developing and Implementing LGBT-inclusive Policies in Schools across Europe”. School student and LGBTQ activists came together on this occasion, and worked a full week on educational guidelines to make school a safer place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. These guidelines will soon be available, and should be helpful in lobbying policy-makers in schools, regions and countries of Europe. As with ESU, IGLYO is currently discussing the implementation of LGBTQ discrimination in the organisation’s organisatio policies. General stance There is a tremendous amount of work that has yet to be achieved in the field of LGBTQ rights, and for young people in particular. But the greatest challenge is to include this fight within the more general fight for Human Rights. Firstly, it implies the inclusion of issues linked to sexual orientations and gender identities in the common agendas of protection by educational institutions, to which the main obstacle is the will not to mention these topics in formal educational settings—for absurd fears of “conversion”, “contamination” and other irrational suspicions. This calls for even more mainstreaming work by IGLYO and LGBTQ activists, in order to show that non-heterosexuality and a gender different from one’s sex is usual, and human. But secondly, this also calls page 4

IGLYO on... Educazion - no.2 / June 2007


And if we are to change society, we are to change people. And if we are to change people, we are to change schools first. Pictures (1-2-4) in this article show Educatio-nal Activities in the IGLYO-OBESSU Study Session “Understangind, Develping and Implee menting LGBT-inclusive policies in European Secondary School”, Strasbourg © IGLYO 2007 Picture (3) shows Presentation of the Social Exclusion report in the European Parliament on October 2006 © ILGA-Europe

Social Exclusion of Young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in Europe, (2006) This joint report by IGLYO and ILGAEurope is a response to the need to bring attention to the social exclusion of young LGBT people in Europe and to put the issue on the agenda of national and European policy-makers. This publication highlights the effect that discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity has on young LGBT people’s capacity to be socially included and to become active citizens. It also raises awareness about the multiple forms of discrimination that interact to put young LGBT people at a particular disadvantage and risk of exclusion. available at:

www.iglyo.com/content/activities/ sexclusion.html IGLYO On...Education - no.2 / June 2007

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Education, a Priority for LGBTQ Rights

If we are to change society, we cannot forget that we are all but people, and in this respect dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation are better than a constant, violent pressure to conform to our human rights lobby—this only leads to superficial political correctness, hatred remaining. Seeking dialogue is key when trying to change people.

IGLYO:

for LGBTQ activists—including within IGLYO—to give up the traditional view of “us versus them”. To spell it out clearly, not a single young person is worry-free, be they tolerant, racist, open-minded, homophobic or simply silent. Adolescence, as we all know, is a tormented period in which one has to leave childhood, accommodate tremendous physical and psychological changes, act as an independent member of their society, and eventually, become an adult. LGBTQ young people do face a great amount of prejudice and discrimination. This leads to bullying, violence, death. But we must never forget that as homophobic as one may get, they remain human. Homophobia most probably comes from a belief, an education, a societal position. It is hatred nonetheless, and it has to be fought. But to some extent, hatred isn’t innate - it finds its source in one’s education.


LGBT Youth in Higher Educational Systems by Ásta Ósk Hlöðversdóttir and Linda Elstad

For many people, their years at university are the time when they come out. There is, therefore, a great need for a supportive environment, and well-established safe spaces for students. ANS Association of Nordic LGBT Student Organisations, is ANSO, an alliance of organizations all over the Nordic Region that is working for students. The organisations range from strong lobbying forces, to groups of LGBT students at who are trying to provide safe spaces for their members at their local university. Both types are equally important.

Ásta Ósk is the president of ANSO, now on her third mandate. She used to be the chairperson of FSS, organisation of LGBT students in Iceland for 2 years, and is currently living in Copenhagen.

Safe environment for students In most Nordic countries, there is a big difference between secondary education and higher education. As individual students progress, they are put under greater pressure and there is less support available. This is also the time when many students decide to move away from home, either because they cannot get the education they want in their hometown, or simply to gain independence. This is usually possible thanks to state-provided support programs, either in the form of student loans, or grants. These programs are available for almost everyone who enters higher education, and finishes with a certain amount of credits. This growing independence means that the years spent in higher education are very important: they shape young people, and are the time when many come out of the closet. Universities have to be places where students can be who they are without fear of discrimination. This means that students should be able to be open about their sexual orientation, as heterosexual students are. Most of the member organizations in ANSO have been started to simply fight for

LGBT Youth

in Higher Educational Systems

Higher education is the most important building block in modern society. Universities educate the people who will take care of tomorrow: teachers, lawyers, politicians and so on.

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IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007

Heteronormativity What we mean by heteronormativity is the general idea that there are two genders/sexes; female and male and that a woman is supposed to be feminine and a man masculine; that they are each other's opposites and that they attract each other. This is what is regarded as normal, which makes a space for defining people who do not follow this pattern as abnormal or deviant. Heteronormativity provides the base for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. We argue that if we fight heteronormativity, we also fight the fundaments of hate crime, of stereotyping, of gender roles, of limitations on who you can be and whom you are allowed to love.


Most of these organisations were originally started as a way of providing safe spaces for LGBT students and they continue to serve as a place to meet new friends and find a friendly atmosphere within the heteronormative study environment. Many of the organisations are working politically within their university, working with their student union, equality committees, and management in order to increase the awareness of LGBT issues.

all over the Nordic region. ANSO fights discrimination based on homophobia and transphobia in Nordic universities and aims to increase the quality of higher education by fighting heteronormativity. ANSO supports local student organisations so they can both be safe places for LGBT students and be an important part of its local university community. ANSO believes in solidarity across borders and works for LGBT rights internationally when possible.

IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007

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in Higher Educational Systems

The Faroe Islands and Greenland are two Nordic countries that do not have any LGBT student activism at all, and these countries are places where homophobia still thrives extensively. The lack of LGBT student activism can partly be explained by the fact that the universities in these countries are not very developed, so most students move to other countries for higher education. ANSO has started working with the student unions of Faroese and Greenlandic students, and hopes to be able to be of help there. For starters, ANSO is now organizing the second Pride festival in the Faroe Islands, taking place the 17th-19th of August 2007 in T贸rshavn. As we speak, the annual ANSO conference is taking place in Stockholm, where 40 participants not only from the Nordic region, but also from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, are gathered to explore www.anso.dk ANSO is an organisation working the topics of queer and heteronormativity in a number in the interest of LGBT students of ways, thus connecting it to higher education.

LGBT Youth

the right for LGBT students to be who they are within the student body. In the Nordic region, the support for local LGBT student organisations varies greatly. Some universities, such as many Norwegian, Icelandic and Swedish ones, really support forming of student groups or clubs, either with funding or other general support. This, among other things, has lead to a great variation in the development of the LGBT student movement between the Nordic countries. In Denmark, there is little tradition of forming student groups and there is only one LGBT student group in the whole country, whereas Sweden has at least 24 local LGBT student organisations. In Finland and Norway there are around 3-4 different LGBT student organisations, while in the small island Iceland there is one strong national LGBT student organisation.


Linda Elstad is President of SFG and has been employed for the organisation the past two years. Her favorite field in LGBT activism is queer and queer theory, applied to everyday life. She lives in Stockholm and has a second home in Poland.

Academia is said to be a neutral place, where objective thought is being produced. We argue that this cannot be correct when the norm is a heterosexual, white, western, middle-aged man without disabilities. There are many strategies that can be used to fight heteronormativity in higher education and ANSO will keep exploring them with the different projects coming up. ANSO’s largest member organization SFG, the Federation of Swedish LGBT Student Organizations, has been working on this issue since its start and has therefore managed to develop strategies, toolkits and methods. SFG has for example published the leaflet ‘A helping hand in deconstructing heteronormative literature’, which gives advice for students on how to SVERIGES take a critical look at the literature used in their courses, since they can often be carriers of heteronorFÖRENADE mativity. Some points from the leaflet can be seen on G A Y S T U D E N T E R page 9. It is not only useful for students but also for www.gaystudenterna.se equality officers, quality evaluators and diversity coordinators as well as teachers and professors. SFG is the national organisation for Swedish LGBT students, and has currently 24 member organisations, spread all over Sweden. Main aims of SFG are to fight heteronormativity in higher education, support the member organizations as well as political lobbying. Among others, SFG educates university students, staff and student unions on LGBT issues, heteronormativity and The Equal Treatment Of Students At Universities Act. SFG is member of ANSO, IGLYO and the Swedish Pol/Balt network, supporting LGBT organisations in Poland and the Baltic countries. SFG also has close cooperations with SFS, Swedish National Union of Students and work closely with Swedish LGBT organisations RFSL and RFSL Ungdom.

LGBT Youth

in Higher Educational Systems

Heteronormativity in higher education Higher education is a producer and reproducer of heteronormativity. A norm – at first sight not obvious - is embedded mativit within the educational system: the norm of heterosexuality. The norm praises heterosexuality as the normal, natural and wanted. This norm excludes a lot of people and makes them seen as “deviants”. What is classified as abnormal, unnatural or unwanted according to the norm, i.e. homosexuality, bisexuality, transgender people or certain expressions of heterosexuality, is often reduced, deprived of value or even falsified. The it consequences are not only grave for all persons involved, it is also a sign of poor quality of thought. Universities help to reproduce prejudice and negative opinions in society and help to uphold discriminatory structures.

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IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007


A CRITICAL LOOK TO LITERATURE

LGBT Youth

1. Who decided what literature to use? 2. Question if the text assumes heterosexuality. 3. Think about different ways of reading the text, which starting-point does the author have? 4. Check if homo- and bisexuality are related to somee thing that is not rel-evant for the sexual orientation. Are generalizations being made? 5. Look out for discussions with a starting-point, which is violating someone’s rights. 6. Check if homosexuality is seen as something primarily between men? 7. Question the relevancy of describing the origin of homo and bisexuality.

In 2004 SFG published a book ‘I den akademiska garderoben (In the academic closet), an anthology where different scholars and researchers explore the consee quences of heteronormativity in diff ferent academic fields. To this day, it is still the only book of its kind known in the Nordic countries. One of its purposes was to be an alternaa tive to already existing books, and it is currently being used at several universities.

ANSO will organize a study session on how to fight heteronormativity in higher education in the spring of 2008, which will be open both for LGBT activists and student union activists. The study session will be held in Budapest during the week 20 – 26 April. See more about that later at www.anso.dk.

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IGLYO On...Education - no.2 / June 2007

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in Higher Educational Systems

ANSO believes that student unions are very important allies in the fight against heteroo normativity. They have the power to influence the university management, and they themselves need to be inclusive in their work. ANSO has therefore started contact making and cooperation with ESU, European Students’ Union as well as the Nordic/Baltic network of student unions.


Promoting Homophobia in Education: Poland by Marta Abramowicz

Promoting Homophobia

in Education

The Polish education system treats homosexuality with a great deal of superstition and prejudice. The situation has worsened with the appointment of Roman Giertych,leader of the League of Polish Families, as the minister of education in May 2006. In Poland there's no sexual education but only the subject “Family life education”. This subject addresses homosexual orientation only when discussing such issues as disturbances and obstacles in achieving sexual identity or lack of approval of one’s own sex. Such curriculum principles determine what texts referring to the understanding of human sexuality should be included in school textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education. The reading of the currently used school textbooks leaves no doubt: the Ministry of Education promotes textbooks that present homosexuality in the manner contrary to the standards determined by such international organisations as the World Health Organisation. The promotion of homophobia in education goes on and is strengthened with every day that vice- Prime Minister Giertych remains in power. The latest project of the Ministry of Education, presented in February of 2007, concerns legal changes which would make the “promotion of homosexuality” impossible, a concept which remains rather vague and undefined. The project assumes, among other things, that the consequence of this promotion (for instance inviting representatives of gay and lesbian organizations to schools) would be not only dismissal from work but also fine or imprisonment. One can doubt if it will be possible to introduce the project in this form in Poland;recent years have shown, however, that everything is possible even if Poland is member of EU.

“Legal Homophobia”: proposed by Polish Minister of Education

The following changes will be made to the law on the educational system of 7 September 1991 (DZ. U. z 2004 r. Nr 256, poz. 2572): 1) after Art.3, Art. 3a will be added as follows: 3a. Schools and educational facilities are obliged to carry out a didactic, caretaking, and educational process in a manner which would protect students from contents whic threaten their proper psychological and moral developement, specifically contents which: 1. propagate brutality, violence, hate and discrimination; 2. are pornographic; 3. propagate behaviour which violate moral norms; 4. violate the principles of the protection marriage and family, including the propa gation of homosexuality 2) Art. 39 point 3 will read as follows: 3. Acts as a guardian towards students and establishes the conditions for the harmonised psycho-physical and moral development of the students through the fulfilment of the duties mentioned in art. 3a as well as engaging health- oriented activities. page 10

IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007


BeLonG-To & Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) / Ireland by Sandra Gowran & Eoghan Howe

Sandra Gowran is GLEN’s Director of Education Policy Change, having a wide ranging experience in the formal education sector as both a second-level teacher and in curriculum development.

GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) is a non-governmental policy focused organisation that works closely with BeLonG To amongst other organisations. Acknowledging the pivotal role education plays in developing young people's capacity to reach their full human potential a priority for GLEN is to ensure a climate of safety, support, acknowledgment and affirmation exists in Irish schools. A significant development in Irish education is the fact that young LGBT people are coming out earlier and in many instances schools often find themselves 'catching up' to ensure that they are meeting the needs of young LGB people who come out whilst still at school.

IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007

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BeLonG-To & GLEN

For other young people however the story is not so positive. Residual stigma and reluctance to address sexual orientation as a normal part of human identity has led to many young people people who are dealing with an emerging LGB identity or those perceived to be LGB experiencing significant inequalities. A serious problem for young people dealing with their emerging LGB identity is the prevalence of homophobic bullying and harassment in Irish schools. It is widely acknowledged that homophobic bullying and harassment are pervasive features of Irish education. Research funded the Department of Education & Science (Norman, Galvin & McNamara, 2006) found that a majority of teachers (79%) were aware of instances of verbal homophobic bullying and a significant number (16%) were aware of physical bullying in their school. The research found that 90% of respondents reported that their school's anti-bullying policy did not include any reference to lesbian and gay related bullying. In 2006 the Department of Education & Science issued suggested steps for developing, revising and updating Anti-Bullying Policies in Schools. For the first time schools are now obliged to address homophobic bullying within their policies.

Sharing Practices -

Since homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993 much progress has been made in Ireland to address equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Laws exist to protect LGBT people (amongst others) from discrimination and harassment in employment, in education and other goods and services. However residual prejudice and stigma can still make life difficult for LGBT people and being ‘out’ is not a choice that all LGBT people in Ireland feel that they have. This article focuses on two organisations (BeLonG To Youth Project and GLEN) working to improve the lives of LGBT people and the awareness of others of the issues and inequalities that they experience.


BeLonG-To & GLEN

Sharing Practices -

Impact of homophobia on young LGB people An exploratory survey carried out last year (Anti-Bullying Centre in Trinity College Dublin, 2006) into the experiences of LGBT young people in Ireland provides evidence of the seriousness of this issue: • 76% had experienced verbal abuse • 39% had experienced physical abuse • 15% had attempted suicide • 21% had self-harmed • 42% reported either an eating disorder, alcohol abuse or drug misuse • 29% reported having practiced unsafe sex • One in ten left education earlier than they would have wished, with 3.3% dropping out of school early. GLEN’s Education Initiative works in collaboration with a wide range of statutory and non-statutory partners in education (including the Department of Education & Science) to: • Support schools and other centers of education in addressing and preventing homophobic bullying, name-calling and harassment of LGB people and those perceived to be LGB, and; • Support the development of inclusive policies, practices and programmes to ensure the inclusion of LGB young people in formal education setting The message is simple, equality for LGB learners in educational settings can be achieved by addressing three key areas: 1. Safety and support from homophobic, bullying, harassment and name-calling; 2. Positive recognition that LGB people exist; are part of the school population and positively contribute to the diversity of humanity and to the social, economic and cultural life of Ireland; 3. Information and support appropriate to their needs, for example BeLonG To Youth Project is a youth organisation for LGBT people. It is funded partly by the Department of Education & Science. Young LGBT people are crucial in informing GLEN’s work and therefore GLEN works closely with BeLonG To. BeLonG To Youth Project works with LGBT young people in Ireland. The organisation provides one-to-one and group support for LGBT young people, aged 14 –23 years, to allow them to safely engage with confidence building, personal development and peer support. It also affords young people a space where they can experience inclusion, acceptance, social justice, fun and safety. As such it is the first and only project of its kind in Ireland. BeLonG To also campaigns and lobbies on issues that affect www.glen.ie LGBT young people – in particular on the issues of visibility, bullying, drug use and suicide.

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IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007


The campaign was a joint effort between BeLonG To and The Equality Authority (A Government Body to promote equality). The Campaign was undertaken because members of BeLonG To wanted to highlight the issue of homophobic bullying in schools due to our own experiences and the experiences of our friends. Members felt that homophobic bullying was dangerously widespread in Irish second-level schools (12-18 years).

Eoghan Howe is a student involved in BeLonG-To Youth Project, Amnesty International and the Irish Labour party, specifically in the launch of the private members bill, Civil Unions Bill 2006.

At BeLonG To we worked through many ideas as to how we could highlight the issue and eventually settled on an awareness and information campaign directed at schools themselves. We approached the Equality Authority and asked if they could launch a campaign for us (they had launched our ‘So Gay!’ campaign in 2004). They decided that they would like to go further this time and become a partner in the campaign. We then worked in partnership with them for the past year on honing ideas and approaches and have come out of that process with a set of materials. A core group of BeLonG To members were centrally involved and in fact directed the message and imagery that is being used. We all also worked closely with Form Design, the designers to the Equality Authority. The centrepiece of the initiative is a set of four posters for display in second-level schools. Each poster depicts three second-level students in a school corridor and carries the slogans: “She’s [or He’s] gay and we’re cool with that” and “Homophobic bullying is not acceptable in our school”. (The four posters are two male and two female, in English and as Gaeilge (Irish).) In addition, an information booklet entitled “Making your school safe for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students” has been prepared. It outlines practical steps schools can take to combat homophobic harassment and bullying and lists support organizations that schools can refer young LGBT people to. A set of posters and a copy of the information booklet were distributed to each second-level principal and separately to other teachers in each school. In addition, a flyer for young people was distributed nation-wide through record stores, cafes and other venues frequented by young people. We received support from a wide range of organizations including: • The Teachers’ Unions • The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, • The National Parents Council • The Union of Secondary Students • An Garda Síochána (Irish police force), • Pobal (a government-established not-for-profit company that has developed a resource pack for schools in the area of LGBT students), and • Parents Support, the organisation of the parents of lesbian, gay www.belong-to.ie and transgender people. The campaign has raised much awareness about homophobic bullying in schools and has empowered many young people in schools throughout Ireland. Young LGBT people in Ireland represent a new generation with high expectations when it comes to their rights and needs being met. Many display a confidence and a pride that was merely a dream for others a few decades ago. Much work still remains to be done in Irish schools but both organisations are confident that the time is right for continued progress. IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007

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Sharing Practices - BeLonG-To & GLEN

Eoghan Howe describes one such campaign “We at BeLonG To have had some interesting projects on our books in our short four year history. They have ranged from art projects, to other more pressing issues such as anti-bullying. Our most important and effective project so far has been the ‘Stop Homophobic Bullying Campaign’ which achieved widespread publicity. publicit


LeGeBiTra / Slovenia

Sharing Practices - LeGeBiTra

By Maja Mojskerc

Safe space – space for everyone School systems around Europe are different; but what we discovered in the OBESSU/IGLYO Study Session in Strasbourg this year that most school systems, if not all, have one thing in common - the exclusion of LGBTQ students. The educational system in Slovenia is not an exception. All students deserve to learn in an environment that is supportive and friendly, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. The Slovene school system strongly, but sneakily, promotes heteronormativity, sexism, bullying and pree Maja Mojskerc works for the Informational judice. Protection of actual or perceived LGBTQ students is the Ljubljana’s centre LeGeBiTra since 2003. exception, not the rule, in most schools across the country. She’s a Human Rights trainer Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) young and youth coordinator people in Slovenia are often faced with exclusion within schools and general society due to the lack of understanding and ignorance towards sexual orientation. A majority of LGBTQ transgender students feel unsafe at school, and are likely to skip class or even miss days of school out of fear for their personal safety. Young LGBTQ people in need of support in school face at least two heavy barriers that they need to overcome. First is the fact that they need to recognise the problem and identify it; furthermore they face a problem of revealing their identity to teachers or other education professionals. That's where the need for safe space comes from. Safe Spaces would provide room for LGBTQ students to come together and explore the obstacles and discriminations they face. If students can identify a supportive school/staff member or student group, they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging to their school. For many students, the presence of allies to whom they can turn for support, or even the simple knowledge that allies exist, can be a big factor in developing a positive sense of self, building community and working to improve the school climate. Safe Spaces would increase the visible presence of student and school staff allies who can help to shape a school culture that is accepting of all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, or any other difference. A reason to take part—just as valid as the reality of bias and its effects - is the fact that homophobia and transphobia hurt us all. They discourage diversity, encourr age hurtful behaviours, and put limits on our relationships and roles in the school community. But how would Safe Spaces work? How could schools provide such a space? The fundamental idea is that every school should choose a “trust person”. The trust person could be a teacher or a counsellor, perhaps even some student from school whom other students trust.

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IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007


www.drustvo-legebitra.si

LeGeBiTra

So what would you need to set up such a project? Creating safe spaces has to start with the grassroots effort of a group that is willing to start positive changes through support, education, and publicity. That group can help schools launch a safe, judgment-free zone for LGBTQ students where they can study and socialise without fear of intolerance and harassment. First, one has to define approaches and strategies to be used within the school setting that would provide space for the support of LGBTQ students; and then, define the minimum conditions needed in order to provide sufficient support for LGBTQ students in schools, such as room, classroom or an office for the trust person to have at her/his disposal, publicity for Safe space within the school and sufficient level of privacy and discreetness. Another important dimension is defining sources of exclusion and homophobia, and defining the need for having specific information available at schools on homophobia and exclusion of LGBTQ young people. Many nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have the knowledge and resources to help with the pro ject. It is crucial to identify partners in the civil society (such as LGBTQ youth NGOs) who could play a role in providing support for young people affected by homophobic bullying. But the project of Safe Spaces is not just limited to students. Members of staff should put themselves forward for staff-development sessions, where they can learn about the social and legal context of LGBTQ issues; the specific difficulties faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth; and attitudes to LGBTQ sexualities. It is up to staff members to arrange their own learning and conclude by planning a way forward into a better future. Being a part of Safe Spaces can give students an opportunity to learn about themselves and others, and can help make schools a better place for everybody, LGBTQ or straight. IGLYO On...Education - no.2 / June 2007

Sharing Practices -

The trust person would be voted in by the school assembly, in which students and school staff have an equal say. It would be important to have both a female and a male trust person, so students in need can talk to the trust person they are most comfortable with. But keep in mind, having a trust person just for LGBTQ students might cause the stigmatisation of students who turn to that trust person for any other reason. Such a person should be available to students all the time during classes, and sometimes, if possible, after school activities.

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& well being in Europe

Mental Health page 16

IGLYO on...Education - no.2 / June 2007

IGLYO on... Education - June / 2007  

This publication gathers many looks on educational issues: first the Board will present IGLYO's position on educational matters; then two hi...

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