Rio Statement on Homophobic Bullying and Education for All
Saturday, 10 December 2011
Today marks the tenth annual observation of International Human Rights Day, when the global community celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Among the human rights codified in this document is the right of universal access to education of high quality. This right is further articulated in subsequent international conventions, including the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the Dakar Framework for Action on Education for All, and the Millennium Development Goals. In addition, the Yogyakarta Principles specifically make clear that this right must not be curtailed by discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
A number of governments around the world have already mobilized in support of the principle of Education for All. However, widespread violence and systemic discrimination and stigma against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people undercut these efforts and limit their impact for many learners. Every day, students around the world are routinely denied the basic, universal human right to education because of discrimination and violence they experience in school on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity. Research from many nations and regions consistently documents the high levels of verbal, physical and sexual harassment, abuse, and violence experienced by young people in schools. Homophobia and gender-based bias also limit learners’ access to accurate information regarding health and sexuality and diminishes the visibility of LGBTI people in other areas of the curriculum.
Studies repeatedly confirm links between homophobic bullying and bias – including lack of access to accurate information regarding health, sexuality and other aspects of the curriculum – and negative social, educational and health outcomes, including increased vulnerability to HIV, mental health consequences and suicide. These studies also indicate concrete steps which schools, education authorities, young people, communities, policy-makers and governments can take to prevent the negative effects of homophobic bullying and ensure the full enjoyment of the universal right to education.
We, the participants gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the first-ever United Nations consultation on homophobic bullying in educational institutions, organized by UNESCO, are here to review the scope and impact of this urgent problem and discuss best practices in programming and policy to address it. We come from countries on all seven continents and represent non-governmental organizations, education ministries, UN agencies, academia and other development partners. Among us are current learners including young people, teachers, and parents.
We call upon all governments to live up to their responsibility to provide universal access to a high quality education by eliminating the barriers created by homophobia and transphobia, including the unacceptable and devastating prevalence of anti-LGBTI bias and violence in elementary, secondary and tertiary levels and settings of education around the world. Education for All must be realized through measures to ensure:
- Safe school climates free of anti-LGBTI bias and violence;
- Access to accurate health and sexuality information relevant to the needs of all learners, including LGBTI people;
- Teachers and school staff prepared and willing to maintain learning environments truly accessible and productive for all; and
- Mechanisms of periodic review by which educational institutions, systems and governments consult with development partners and all education sector stakeholders in order to hold themselves accountable to these principles.
Participants of the Rio Conference:
Aibai Culture and Education Center, CHINA
BeLonG To, IRELAND
Cameroon National Association for Family Welfare, IPPF (CAMNAFAW), CAMEROON
Center for Creative Iniatiatives in Health and Population, VIETNAM
Danish Institute for Human Rights, DENMARK
Department of Basic Education: Race and Values in Education, SOUTH AFRICA
Education International, BELGIUM
Fundacion Hacia un Sentido de la Vida, A.C., MEXICO
GALE (Latin America and Caribbean Representation) and the Brazilian ABGLT, BRAZIL
Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), SOUTH AFRICA
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education network (GLSEN), UNITED STATES
Gay-Straight Alliance Network, UNITED STATES
Global Alliance for LGBT Education (GALE), THE NETHERLANDS
Government of Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL
Health Education and Research Association, THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) Committee, BRAZIL
International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO), LITHUANIA
Jamaican Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN), JAMAICA
La Trobe University, AUSTRALIA
Ministry of Education, BRAZIL
Ministry of Education, JAMAICA
Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, JAMAICA
Ministry of Education, NAMIBIA
Ministry of Social Inclusion, EL SALVADOR
National AIDS Programme, Ministry of Health, BRAZIL
National Secretariat for Human Rights, BRAZIL
Pathfinder International, BRAZIL
Samoa AIDS Foundation/Pacific Sexual Diversity Network, SAMOA
State Education Secretariat, BRAZIL
State Secretariat for Social Assistance and Human Rights, BRAZIL
Stonewall, UNITED KINGDOM
The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL), SWEDEN
Universidad de Antioquia / Colombia Diversa, COLOMBIA
Universidad San Marcos, PERU
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