Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash
Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia: Safe and inclusive schools for students and teachers in all their diversity

published 17 May 2022 updated 17 June 2024

On 17 May, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), Education International (EI), reaffirms our support and efforts to create safe and inclusive schools, universities, and other educational settings for learners and teachers in all their diversity. Safe schools are those where all teachers and students can feel and be free from discrimination, threats, and violence based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.

As educators, trade unions, and members of the global community, we play a critical role in promoting inclusion and diversity in our schools, and protecting the fundamental rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) members and students. [1]

However, despite many achievements and progress made to advance universal human rights, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia still exist. Globally, progress on LGBTI rights is threatened by the rise of political leaders who fuel anti-LGBTI rhetoric and violence, enact anti-LGBTI legislation, and ban gender-affirming and inclusive curriculum, all of which have profound impacts on LGBTI students and teachers.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has found that in schools where LGBTI students face “abuse, including physical violence, social isolation, humiliation, and death threats...[this results] in feelings of unsafety, missed school days, and reduced chances of academic success. Due to such abuse in educational settings, LGBT youth are more likely to commit suicide than others”. [2]

Let’s stand up to intolerance and discrimination whenever and wherever we see it. Let’s keep working to ensure our unions and schools are more LGBTI inclusive. Societies and their schools are only as strong as their most vulnerable.

To support this effort, EI has started a blog series that brings together the voices of education experts and activists – researchers, teachers, unionists, and civil society actors. In the first blog entry, IGLYO, The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Intersex Youth and Student Organisation, offers practical guidance to pave the way towards Inclusive Education based on their research. Next week, IEAL, the Latin American Regional Office of EI, provides an overview of a tool developed for education union organisations to promote respect for the gender identity and sexual orientation of the people who make up the educational communities of the region, with more blog entries to follow in the upcoming weeks.

Education unions can, and must, play a key role in the struggle for equal rights and quality education for all. Education International calls on governments, educators, and unions around the world on IDAHOBIT to commit to creating safe, inclusive spaces for all learners.

If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please contact Lainie at equality@ei-ie.org.