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States must act to stop bullying of LGBT students

States must act to stop bullying of LGBT students, say UN experts

GENEVA (4 October 2019) – UN human rights experts have expressed their grave concerns about bullying, harassment and exclusion of LGBT people at schools, universities and other educational institutions, and called on States to prohibit and prevent such actions and to punish offenders.

“It is deeply disturbing that young people are being subjected to vicious online attacks and hate crimes - often by peers from their own schools – due to their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Koumbou Boly Barry.

“LGBT students face teasing, name calling and public ridicule, rumours, intimidation, pushing and hitting, stealing or damaging belongings, obscene notes and graffiti, social isolation, cyber bullying, physical and sexual assault, and even death threats,” they said in a statement. “This occurs in classes, playgrounds, toilets and changing rooms, on the way to and from school, as well as online.

“Implicit violence also takes place through discriminatory education policies, regulations, curricula, teaching materials and teaching practices,” they added.

Madrigal-Borloz will present a report*, which will in part address the issue of bullying and harassment of LGBT students, to the UN General Assembly on 24 October 2019.

Bullying and discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression adversely affects LGBT and gender non-conforming students’ physical and psychological health, the UN experts said. Documented effects include depression, anxiety, fear, stress, loss of confidence, low self-esteem, withdrawal, social isolation, loneliness, guilt, sleep disturbance, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, self-harm, and even suicide, they said.

“Additionally, these unwelcome environments affect LGBT people’s overall education and employment prospects,” Madrigal-Borloz and Koumbou Boly Barry said. “They are more likely to feel unsafe at school, avoid school activities, miss classes, skip school or drop out, and achieve lower academic results than their peers, setting them to an economic disadvantage in life.”

UN human rights mechanisms have raised concerns about violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in education and have called on States to take measures to prohibit, prevent and punish the harassment, bullying, and expulsion from schools of LGBTI children, including by raising public awareness and implementing safety and support measures.

ENDS

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