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Japan finally includes LGBTI kids in anti-bullying policy

Japan finally includes LGBTI kids in anti-bullying policy

japanese students

Japan has finally updated its national bullying prevention policy to include protections for sexual and gender diverse students.

Advocates believed the update would boost Japan’s reputation regionally and internationally on LGBTI rights.

‘Japan’s new policy on bullying is an important step toward ensuring equal access to education for all Japanese children,’ said Kanae Doi, Japan director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

‘The government is demonstrating leadership in educating and empowering teachers to protect LGBT students.’

A recent survey revealed 50% of LGBTI people were bullied at school. 70% of respondents said they did not get protection from teachers or their school.

The Education Ministry released the Basic Policy for the Prevention of Bullying last week, which mandates schools should prevent bullying of students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Schools could do this by ‘promot[ing] proper understanding of teachers on…sexual orientation/gender identity as well as mak[ing] sure to inform on the school’s necessary measures regarding this matter’.

Japan’s getting there, slowly

A 2016 HRW report found LGBT Istudents in Japanese schools face physical and verbal abuse, harassment, and frequent insults from both peers and staff.

Hateful anti-LGBT rhetoric is nearly ubiquitous, driving LGBTI students into silence, self-loathing, and in some cases, self-harm.

Japanese teachers were not well ill-equipped to respond to LGBTI bullying and even when teachers or schools tried to support students the response would be inadequate.

Teachers were often ill informed about LGBTI issues and unaware of the specific vulnerabilities faced by LGBTI children.

The current momentum in the Japanese political discussion on LGBTI issues promises further reforms according to HRW.

‘Japan’s support for two recent United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions on LGBT rights and co-chairing the 2016 UNESCO conference on LGBT bullying should be points of pride for the government,’ Doi said.

‘By amending the Basic Policy for the Prevention of Bullying to include sexual orientation and gender identity, Japan has taken the crucial step of bringing its own policies in line with its international human rights obligations.’