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Sharp increase in sexual orientation discrimination in education

Substantially more lesbians, gays and bisexuals experience discrimination incidents in education in recent years. That's according to a study by the Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP) on discrimination in the Netherlands, released Thursday, April 2.

The percentage of lesbian, gay and bi (LHB) people experiencing discrimination incidents in education nearly doubled, from about 13% in 2013 to about 25% in 2018. In fact, one in 12 LHBs (8%) quit their education because of discrimination, and one in 25 is taking an education below their level because of discrimination.

"It is unfortunately no surprise, but always sad to see how hard a part of our LGBT youth still has it at school," said COC president Astrid Oosenbrug in a response. "And then transgender young people and young people who face a stack of discrimination grounds - such as the girl who is a Muslim and a lesbian - are not even in the picture here."

Oosenbrug wants Minister Arie Slob (Primary and Secondary Education) to tighten the requirements for tackling LGBT discrimination at school and for teachers to be required to learn in their training how to tackle discrimination. According to the COC president, schools should set and enforce a clear standard that LGBT people are not discriminated against and that, for example, 'gay' is not shouted at.

Oosenbrug advises LGBT students to join a GSA, a club of LGBT people and allies working toward acceptance at school. "Then you're not alone, and besides, things often go better in schools with a GSA," he said. The positive effect of GSAs is evidenced in part by a study by Columbia University and COC.

The researchers found no clear explanation for the increase in discrimination experienced by LGBT people at school. The COC thinks it may have to do with an emancipation paradox: LHB youth are becoming more confident, coming out of the closet earlier, becoming more assertive and no longer accepting swearing with "gay" and other forms of discrimination. As a result, the problems of discrimination at school are becoming more visible. COC wants schools and the government to take this signal from young people seriously and take measures.

The SCP study further shows, among other things, that about a quarter (27%) of the Dutch population experienced discrimination in 2018. This is about the same number as in 2013. Besides LGBT people, people with a migration background, Muslims, young people and people with disabilities in particular experience relatively high levels of discrimination.

The COC called on the House of Representatives last year for broad measures against discrimination. For example, the organization called for higher penalties for discrimination and specialized discrimination investigators in the police. The COC made that call also on behalf of the Inspraakorgaan Turken in Nederland (IOT), the Samenweringsverband van Marokkaanse Nederlanders (SMN), the Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israël (CIDI), NNID and TNN. Meanwhile, the penalty for incitement to discrimination has been increased from one to two years and the House of Representatives has asked the government to look into appointing discrimination investigators to the police.

[Source: COC NL - Photo: COCs GSA]

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