As educators, trade unions, civil society organizations, the Ministry of Education, other state bodies, and members of the global community, we all play a critical role in encouraging inclusion and diversity in our schools and protecting the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and plus (LGBTI+) students. In the research conducted by Queer Cyprus Association in the northern part of Cyprus in 2021, it was evident that more than half of LGBTI+ people (68%) were university graduates or had completed their postgraduate education, whereas on the other hand the results in terms of gender identity demonstrated that that transgenders were the lowest (11%) in completing higher education. Although LGBTI+s have access to education to a great extent, what is important is how and under what conditions they get this education. For this reason, the experiences of LGBTI+s in education in our country are unfortunately not heartwarming, LGBTI+ students may be exposed to humiliating comments, name-calling, exclusion behaviors and attitudes that may lead to physical violence by their peers every day because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. These bullying behaviors are not only perpetrated by peers but also by people in authority in the school environment, such as teachers, school counselors, school staff, and administrators. Students’ clothes, hairstyles, names, the toilets they use, the gender they express themselves as, the type of sport they are interested in, the color and profession they choose do not have to be based on traditional sexist stereotypes. A sexist curriculum and education system that reinforces bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity and encourages homophobic behavior is not acceptable.
We want teachers, school counselors, principals, the ministry of education and society to be inclusive, supportive, and provide a safe space to present the full potential of LGBTI+ students. Inclusive diversity in education!
In case of any discrimination or marginalization you experience in your educational life, choose solidarity, not isolation. In order to be more inclusive in your school and to support your LGBTI+ students further you can reach Queer Cyprus Association on 0548 8585847.