In light of rampant homophobic bullying at school, Hong Kong LGBT rights group Nu Tong Xue She is set to put online an interview with a noted figure in each of the coming 12 months, aiming to draw people’s attention to the underlying problems.
Named 'I am who I am', the education project believes youngsters who fail to meet gender stereotypes – be they gay, bisexual, or straight – should have the right to learn and grow in a safe and caring environment.
An interview with Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Woon-Kwong Lam will be available from 20 December, followed by 11 others including lawmaker Cyd Ho, gay radio presenter Brian Leung and Transgender Resource Centre chairperson Joanne Leung.
'While at secondary school, I faced the most bullying,' Joanne Leung, a trans woman, recalled in her interview. 'A classmate once threatened to shave my eyebrow with a craft knife.'
A survey of 500 gay students by the Boys and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong two years ago discovered that around 40% of students have faced exclusion, boycott or language violence before.
Another poll of 300 students by the Association this year noted that just 20 percent of them were out to family members and 17 percent to teachers. When faced with sexuality-related problems, a mere 2% sought help from their moms and none from dads.
A 20-year-old man who identified himself as 'Wing' revealed at the project’s press conference how he had tried to commit suicide eight times and cut classes partly as others kept calling him names, at times throwing stones at or punching him.
He plans to come out to his parents only after he can make a living, for fear he will be kicked out.
Chun-yam Chau, a project coordinator at the Association, believes that while some bullied students did ask for help, they took care not to disclose their sexuality.
Nu Tong Xue She thinks the Education Bureau has not provided sufficient support to teachers, who oftentimes lack sufficient knowledge or experience to deal with gay students.
'I am who I am' is also calling for self-made clips, ranging from 30 to 60 seconds, to promote care for gay teenagers and combat school bullying.
Watch the trailer for the project: