In anticipation of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transpobia, UNESCO’s School Rainbow campaign brightened up schools and educated students on themes of sexual diversity, acceptance and the right to education. APCOM, UNAIDS, UNESCO, Youth LEAD and Youth Voices Count were key partners in mobilizing volunteers from the LGBT community to assist in drawing enormous rainbows in school yards, drawing attention to the discrimination that LGBT students are often subjected to, and bringing an end to bullying of LGBT students within schools.
The first chalking was held at Thammasat University, and was followed by a panel discussion with panelists including pop icons, academics and leaders from the LGBT community in Bangkok. Subsequent chalkings were held at the New International School of Thailand (NIST), Wat Nuannoradit School and at Mathayom Prachanivet School. All chalkings were conducted early in the morning to facilitate student engagement, allowing students more time to participate before their daily classes began. Students surpassed expectations with their high levels of engagement and enthusiasm during the chalking activities.
Following the chalkings, UNESCO facilitated lectures and educational activities that demonstrated the importance of acceptance and support for sexual diversity and freedom of expression. These lectures emphasized the need to end bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in schools, and the need to create safe spaces within schools that promote inclusive and participatory education for all.
The School Rainbow campaign was developed in response to the results from a study commissioned by UNESCO Bangkok and Plan International, and conducted by Mahidol University. This study sought to illuminate truths about bullying of secondary school students who are, or are perceived to be transgender or same-sex attracted from five provinces throughout Thailand. Findings from this study indicate that more than half of the students (ranging from 13 to 20 years old) that self-identified as LGBT were bullied within the past month because of their sexual identity. Moreover, one quarter of students who did not self-identify as LGBT, but were perceived by their peers to be transgender or same-sex attracted, also reported having been bullied. Furthermore, this study found that bullying of the LGBT and perceived LGBT community within schools led to a higher incidence of risky behaviors among these groups; these behaviors included, but were not limited to skipping classes, illegal drug use, unprotected sex, self-harm and suicide. The chalkings were designed to engage students in the promotion of LGBT-friendly, safe spaces within schools. The educational initiatives sought to raise awareness among students about these difficult truths, while developing accepting and diverse school communities throughout Bangkok.
It is our hope that the School Rainbow IDAHOT campaign continues to see growth, continues to promote acceptance and inclusion of sexual diversity, and continues to contribute to the promotion of safe learning environments for all students.
Stand Up. Speak Out. Stop Bullying.
Visit: www.en.schoolrainbow.org (English)