UNESCO hosts International Ministerial Meeting on the Education Sector Responses to Violence based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression on 17 and 18 May 2016

“Homophobic bullying is (…) a moral outrage, a grave violation of human rights and a public health crisis” – Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 8 December 2011.

Education is a basic universal human right but is currently denied to many students around the world due to violence and discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Therefore, UNESCO has facilitated several initiatives to prevent gender-based violence through education. In 2013, UNESCO launched the Education and Respect for All: Preventing and Addressing Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying in Educational Institutions programme. As part of this programme, UNESCO developed lesson plans to educate children between the age of 6 and 18 (primary and secondary education) about gender norms, gender identity and sexual/gender-based discrimination, bullying and exclusion. Next to this, the #SchoolRainbow initiative was organized in 2014, aimed to raise awareness to the problem of gender-based bullying at schools in Thailand and around the world, by chalking rainbows in the playground of schools around Bangkok and facilitating debate on the subject.

This three-year Education for All programme concludes with an International Ministerial Meeting on the 17-18 of May 2016. UNESCO hosts this Meeting on ‘Education Sector Responses to Violence based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression’ at its headquarters and representatives from several UN agencies, Ministers of Education from around the world and multilateral, regional and (inter)national organizations that are working to address and prevent violence and discrimination through education will attend. On the first day of the conference, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, the first global report on UN Global Report on the nature, scope and impact of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in educational settings, will be presented. Furthermore, the event will facilitate several plenary debates, panels, presentations, videos and testimonies on the topic for the approximately 250 participants attending. An important aim of the conference is to formulate and find consensus on a policy statement of the policy officials present.

As the main contributor, the Netherlands is highly involved with the upcoming event.

“For the Netherlands gender identity is a very important topic; this is why my government has contributed to UNESCO’s project on preventing and addressing homophobic and transphobic bullying in education, of which this Ministerial Meeting is an essential component.” – Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, February 2016.

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