The United Nations (UN) and Vietnamese stakeholders have promoted comprehensive sexuality education for sexual and gender minority persons, usually referred to as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ+) people.
|Students at University of Education – Vietnam National University, Hanoi at the global UN Free and Equal (UNFE) campaign launched in Vietnam on Dec 18, aims at promoting equal rights and the fair treatment of LGBTIQ+. Photos: UNICEF/Nguyen Trong Giap|
The efforts have been made under the partnership between the UN, University of Education – Vietnam National University (VNU-UEd), Hanoi and LGBTIQ+ community-led partner organizations: Hanoi Queer, Venus Social Enterprise, and Finding a Self through Life Writing Project, with support from the global UN Free and Equal (UNFE) campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and the fair treatment of the group.
The move is aimed at safer learning environments for the persons while raising social awareness about diversity in Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC).
With the key message “Take Pride in Kindness for Safer Schools for LGBTI People”, the 2022 UNFE campaign in Vietnam is to enhance understanding of the rights of LGBTIQ+ individuals in Vietnam through online surveys, a social media campaign, and a hybrid public advocacy event hosted at VNU-UEd on December 18.
Lesley Miller, Deputy Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Vietnam on behalf of the UN, said LGBTI students face “specific mental health challenges that include negative family reactions to their sexuality or gender identity and fears of discrimination.”
She added that reports of bullying, stigma, and discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression are still common in Vietnam. Research shows that LGBTI students face higher levels of gender-based violence than their peers and that educational institutions are often not safe for them. In addition, national data show that HIV infections have been on the increase among young gay men and other men who have sex with men, as well as transgender women.
|Lesley Miller, Deputy Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Vietnam, delivers a speech at the event.|
School – good environment for gender minority persons
In consultation with a broad group of representatives from the LGBTIQ+ community in Vietnam, the UNFE in Vietnam has found that strengthening the inclusion of SOGIESC discussion and information in comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) content at schools is an area where continued engagement of the UN has important value.
The campaign in Vietnam recognizes that groups of teachers and pedagogical students, with their pedagogical skills and expertise, are important agents of change in spreading effective content of CSE, particularly SOGIESCs, through kindness and pride-based approaches to many future generations of students.
In this regard, respect for diversity, kindness, and pride attitudes will be promoted and nurtured. To that end, the promotion of safe schools and educational environments for all students will be committed and translated into action.
In 2021, the UN supported Vietnam’s ministries in digitalizing the CSE program and making it open source for teachers, parents, and students at all levels. This work contributes to advancing the rights of LGBTI adolescents and young people. It also helps raise public awareness of sexuality education, breaking taboos, tackling gender bias, and enabling more inclusive, friendly schools for all.
“We strongly encourage everyone to visit these online resources and take a proactive approach to equip yourselves with knowledge,” Lesley Miller noted.
She emphasized that everyone – all people – regardless of their Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, or any other status, are born free and equal in dignity and rights. “We welcome the emphasis on respect and kindness with the aim of ensuring safety for everyone in the spirit of leaving no one behind,” Lesley Miller shared.
|Teachers and pedagogical students are important agents of change in promoting the rights of gender minority persons.|
This is the 4th year of the UNFE campaign in Vietnam. In 2022, the UNICEF leads the coordination of the campaign, with support from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the UN Resident Coordinator Office (RCO) in Vietnam, in collaboration with University of Education – Vietnam National University (VNU-UEd), Hanoi Queer, Venus Social Enterprise, and Finding a Self Through Life Writing Project.
UN Free & Equal (UNFE) is an initiative launched by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2013 as a global UN public information campaign for equal rights and the fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people (LGBTIQ+) everywhere. UN Free & Equal has also supported national-level campaigns and events in more than 40 countries around the world since its launch, including Vietnam.
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