HRW flags systematic discrimination against LGBTI students in South Korea

Seoul, Sep 14 (EFE).- In a report published on Tuesday, nonprofit Human Rights Watch has highlighted South Korean authorities’ lack of resources and efforts to end discrimination and widespread mistreatment against LGBTI students in classrooms.

The study is based on interviews with 26 currently or recently enrolled high school students who define themselves as homosexual, bisexual, pansexual or asexual and identify as cisgender, non-binary or queer.

The interviewed students narrated continuous episodes of abuse, with ostracism being its most common form, once they revealed their identity or sexual orientation, while teachers often showed indifference towards these attitudes.

They also faced offensive comments towards the LGBTI community both by fellow students and teachers, including cases where they never revealed their identity due to the fear of being rejected.

South Korean teachers and school counselors have not received any training on how to work with LGBT people, a fact that was evident after interviews with over 40 teachers, educational experts and counsellors.

“If the LGBT youth is lucky, they will meet a counselor who is LGBT or has LGBT friends or knows the issue. If they aren’t lucky, they will meet a conservative Christian counselor who will lead them to conversion therapy or a Christian church,” a counselor told EFE.

The report stresses that the power enjoyed by many conservative Christian groups, which have political backing, is one of the main reasons why South Korea has still not approved a law against this discrimination, leaving the young members of the community completely unprotected.

Pressure from these groups has managed to stall even the most feeble attempts to modify the academic curriculum, so that LGBT people hardly find a positive mention in textbooks.

The teachers’ training also does not include the means and orientation about how to proceed when a student identifies as a member of the community.

As a result, South Korean LGBTI students end up having to pass through schools without any support and guidance.

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