UNESCO #ColourMeIn art campaign sheds light on inclusion and school safety for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia



In a recent survey, 55% of LGBTI students surveyed in Thailand reported experiencing physical, psychological or sexual violence in the past month. In Viet Nam, 44% of LGBTI students consider homophobic and transphobic stigma at school “serious”. In Japan, 68% of LGBTI persons aged 10 to 35 experienced violence in school.

In every country, school violence and bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE) affect students’ rights to quality, inclusive education.SOGIE-based school violence and bullying have negative educational, emotional and other health outcomes for LGBTI students.The impact on education includes avoiding school activities, missing classes and dropping out of school. The adverse effects on young people’s mental and psychological health include increased risk of anxiety, fear, stress, loss of confidence, low self-esteem, loneliness, self-harm, depression and suicide.

On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) on 17 May 2019, UNESCO Bangkok is launching the #ColourMeIn campaign featuring work from artists from across Asia to raiseawarenessabout thechallengesfacedbyLGBTIlearnersintheregion, and to catalyzesupportforpreventingand addressingSOGIE-basedviolenceinschools. UNESCO Bangkok has reached out to more than 60 civil society organizations in the Asia-Pacific, corresponded with 25 artists from the region, and received 17 submissions from eight countries for the #ColourMeIn campaign.

The comics, soundscapes, collages, photographs, illustrations and short videos confront school-based violence in all its forms. The overwhelming themes, however, are a celebration of LGBTI identities, the empowerment of individuals, and the transformative force of supportive communities, including family, friends and LGBTI allies. In addition to curriculum reform presenting positive images of the LGBTI community, policy solutions involve forming networks of policy-makers, schools, families, civil society and media to enhance the quality of interventions to build safe schools. Embedded in the aspirational artwork representation is a recognition that whole-school policies and programmes covering all aspects, including policies, curriculum, teacher training and peer support, are critical for LGBTI inclusion, and have a bearing on students’ health and wellbeing. Learning and wellbeing are inextricably linked. 

On 17 May, UNESCO Bangkok and partners will share the artwork on their respective social media platforms, culminating in a cohesive, regional message to address violence and bullying on the basis of SOGIE and promote safe and inclusive schools for all learners. The IDAHOTB launch will be followed by an advocacy campaign over the coming year featuring the voices of artists, activists and policy-makers focusing on LGBTI-related issues across the region.

This year’s IDAHOTB theme – “Justice and protection for all” – has special importance for the Asia region. Recent events have seen progressive steps such as the decriminalization of homosexuality in India and the proposal of same-sex partnerships in Thailand, while retrograde movements elsewhere in the region have fostered rising tides of homophobia and legislated injustice. The #ColourMeIn campaign brings important perspectives on safe, inclusive schools for LGBTI learners as a basic human right.

For media inquiries and access to the art exhibition, contact:

Jeremy Walden-Schertz, Media Officer, UNESCO Bangkok
jc.schertz (at) unesco (dot) org

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