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In recent years, lawmakers and school administrators in the Philippines have recognized that bullying of LGBT youth is a serious problem, and designed interventions to address it.
In 2012, the Department of Education (Dep Ed), which oversees primary and secondary schools, enacted a Child Protection Policy designed to address bullying and discrimination in schools, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
But in the Philippines, students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) too often find that their schooling experience is marred by bullying, discrimination, lack of access to LGBT-related information, and in some cases, physical or sexual assault.
Interviews were conducted in English or in Tagalog or Visayan with the assistance of a translator. Whenever possible, interviews were conducted one-on-one in a private setting.
Researchers also spoke with interviewees in pairs, trios, or small groups when students asked to meet together or when time and space constraints required meeting with members of student organizations simultaneously.
Despite prohibitions on bullying, for example, students across the Philippines described patterns of bullying and mistreatment that went unchecked by school staff.
Carlos M., a 19-year-old gay student from Olongapo City, said: “When I was in high school, they’d push me, punch me.
Unfortunately, positive information and resources regarding sexual orientation and gender identity are exceedingly rare in secondary schools in the Philippines.
When students do learn about LGBT people and issues in schools, the messages are typically negative, rejecting same-sex relationships and transgender identities as immoral or unnatural.
Representatives of the Church warn that recognizing LGBT rights will open the door to same-sex marriage, and oppose legislation that might promote divorce, euthanasia, abortion, total population control, and homosexual marriage, which they group under the acronym “DEATH.” In a country that is more than 80 percent Catholic, opposition from the Church influences how LGBT issues are addressed in families and schools, with many parents and teachers telling students that being LGBT is immoral or wrong.
One way that schools can address bullying and discrimination and ameliorate their effects is by providing educational resources to students, teachers, and staff to familiarize them with LGBT people and issues.
Human Rights Watch conducted the research for this report between September 2016 and February 2017 in 10 cities on the major islands of Luzon and the Visayas in the Philippines.