Filipino teachers ready to improve minorities’ rights
Action plans to promote and protect the rights of minorities, particularly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, were devised at an Education International workshop for teacher unionists in the Philippines.
This event, held in Manila from 2-4 August, was organised by the Education International (EI) Asia-Pacific office. It was attended by 19 participants from five EI national affiliates: the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the Federation of Free Workers - Trade Federation VIII (FFW), the Philippine Public School Teachers' Association (PPSTA) (SMP-NATOW), the Teachers' Organisation of the Philippine Public Sector (TOPPS), and the Samahang Manggagawang Pilipino-National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers (SMP-NATOW).
The workshop aimed to familiarise participants with the issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, especially in the education sector. Although each school and college has its own policy, participants agreed that there is overwhelming discrimination towards the LGBTI community in schools, at all levels, and in employment.
At the end of the event, participants were able to:
· Understand and identify strategies to defend minority rights
· increased their awareness of LGBTI issues, especially policies and existing legislation
· Identify common stereotypes, homophobia, bullying and discriminatory practices
· Promote inclusive education and develop mechanisms to review existing education methods and education-related materials
Action plans on minority rights for approval and implemented were also developed.
Impact of stereotypes
The gathering was addressed by Ging Cristobal, an LGBTI advocate from Outright International, Philippines. Stating that discrimination comes from stereotypes, stigma and prejudice, she emphasised that people who have been prejudiced may be despised, doubted or underestimated, “preventing them from reaching their full potential” and “depriving their society of their beneficial contributions”.
Cristobal went on to explain relevant terms such as gender role, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual behaviour. Highlighting the lack of state legislation protecting LGBTI rights, she recommended that anti-discrimination laws, policies, programmes, treaties, and resolutions be formulated at national, regional, and international levels. She also stressed the positive role played by coalitions working towards stopping discrimination.
EI: Raising awareness
“Filipino affiliates’ representatives found this workshop to be a real eye-opener concerning discrimination faced by the LGBTI community,” noted EI Regional Coordinator Pathma Krishnan. “Leaders and participants will start raising awareness of minority rights especially on the issues faced by the LGBTI community among all students, educators and education staff.”