Intersex youth deserve an education where they can develop their full potential, safe & free from harassment & discrimination, and that represents them in an affirmative, positive & non-stigmatizing manner.

Meanwhile, school or university can be a difficult place for intersex youth: They experience bullying, discrimination and stigmatisation in educational settings. Textbooks and educational programs usually lack positive intersex representation, and, as the recent FRA LGBTI Survey 2019 shows, 54% of intersex respondents felt discriminated against by school or university personnel.

What To Do

Every child’s right to quality education on the basis of equal opportunity is firmly enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. A child’s enjoyment of this right, however, depends on different factors, one of them being the school’s capacity to protect children from discrimination and harassment. Establishing school policies that oblige schools to create an inclusive and empowering environment is also key for protecting the rights of intersex children and adolescents to education.

The 2018 IGLYO LGBTQI Inclusive Education Report has shown that the main areas for improvement in regards to discrimination of LGBTQI students are compulsory education curricula, mandatory teacher training and data collection on bullying and harassment on grounds of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variation in sex characteristics. As of 2018, only two countries across Europe (Malta and Sweden) provide most of these measures with respect to sex characteristics specifically. Some regions in Spain have also developed inclusive laws and policies, but these have not been implemented nationally. By contrast, eleven countries have failed to implement any measures.

Key measures to protect intersex students from structural and verbal discrimination and harassment should therefore include:

  • explicitly including the protective ground “sex characteristics”in anti-discrimination provisions in the area of education.
  • establishing mandatory trainingto prepare teachers for diversity in the classroom.
  • establishing systems of supportfor vulnerable students that specifically include intersex students and their needs.
  • establishing disaggregated datacollection on bullying and harassment in school environments.
  • including intersex people and the existence of more than two biological sexes in a positive and empowering way in school curricula, text books and education materialsin order to increase the understanding of the general public on the quality of sex as a spectrum and the existence of intersex people and to improve the self confidence of intersex children and adolescents.
  • establishing school policiesthat create a framework that is appropriate for protecting intersex students, and which,
    • explicitly protectintersex students/students with variations of sex characteristics.
    • explicitly include derogatory languagein the scope of bullying; include derogatory language behavior that takes place in the school, on school property, at school-sponsored functions and activities, as well as usage of electronic technology and electronic communication that occurs in the school, on school property, at school sponsored functions and activities, on school computers, networks, fora and mailing lists.
    • establish mandatory trainingabout the existence of intersex people and about discrimination and human rights violations intersex students may face at school and in their everyday life for teachers, social workers, school psychologists and other professionals and staff working at schools.
    • establish low-threshold psychological and social support mechanismsfor intersex students.
    • explicitly establish the entitlement of the intersex student to be provided with, on request, specific arrangements in relation to gender-specific facilities by providing them with a safe and non-stigmatizing alternative.
    • encourage schools to designate facilitiesdesigned for use by one person at a time as accessible to all students regardless of their sex or gender, and to incorporate such single-user facilities into new construction or renovation.
    • allow for all students to participate in physical education classes and sports activities, including competition sports, in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
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