Educate to End the Hate
June 28 holds a special place in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) history. On this day in the year 1969, a group of LGBT patrons fought off the authorities during a police raid in a New York City gay bar, which escalated to a series of spontaneous demonstrations against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual and gender minorities. These Stonewall Riots became the cornerstone of the worldwide LGBT rights movement.
On this very same day, we relive the spirit of the struggle here in UP Diliman. Forty-four years after Stonewall, LGBT people all over the world continue to suffer from discrimination, harassment and violence due to their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. In UP and in the Republic of the Philippines, there is currently no comprehensive anti-discrimination policy that would guarantee LGBTs protection in education, employment, healthcare, housing and other areas. LGBT people are still routinely condemned as sick, abnormal or immoral by some members and sectors of Philippine society.
The University of the Philippines Babaylan, the first and largest LGBT student organization in the country, remains determined to press for change and hopeful that this will soon happen. Throughout our twenty-year history as a support and advocacy group, we have witnessed the LGBT discourse in the State University gradually improve, from one borne out of hatred and ignorance, to that of curiosity and general tolerance. Last month’s issue of Forum (the UP community newsletter) devoted to gender, women and LGBTs have further convinced us that UP is now ready to fully embrace diversity and appreciate and protect its LGBT constituency.
We reiterate our persistent demand to the University administration to create and fairly enforce a comprehensive non-discrimination and anti-bullying/harassment policy that includes explicit protection for LGBT students, teachers and staff. Many of the world’s top universities already have these regulations in place, and it is imperative that UP implement them as soon as possible, not only for the well-being of its LGBT constituents, but also to preserve UP’s stature as the country’s premier academic institution.
We urge faculty and support staff to practice and promote LGBT-inclusive education. This would include an LGBT-friendly curriculum and learning materials, as well as access to relevant gender-sensitive information and services.
We call on our fellow Iskolars ng Bayan, regardless if you are LGBT or not, to continue building and strengthening this culture of human rights and diversity that we have painstakingly cultivated in our beloved university. Your privileged position as the country’s future leaders will allow you to educate and influence many others to side with equality, stop homo/bi/transphobia and ultimately honor Stonewall’s legacy.