PINK Embassy presents the LGBTI topic in Tirana high schools

7 October 2015 – PINK Embassy / LGBT Pro Albania held on 1, 5 and 6 October held its first lectures on the LGBTI topics with teachers from three high schools of Tirana: “Abdulla Keta” in Shkozë, “Besnik Sykja” in Tiranë e Re, and “Aleks Buda” in Laprakë. The trainings were held with teachers from social and natural sciences and were attended by more than 50 teachers.

Held in the framework of the initiative “Improving the lives of LGBTI people at the local level” and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Sport and the Regional Directorate of Education in Tirana, the trainings aimed to inform and discuss with teachers the concepts, problems and challenges that LGBTI people face in society. Special focus was given to young LGBTI people and the problems they face with discrimination and bullying in schools.

The trainings shed light on a series of issues and challenges related to the official position of schools, personal perceptions of teachers and institutional as well as policy challenges related to this topic and particular and discrimination in general.

From a professional viewpoint teachers made it clear that it is work practice, legal and professional obligation to combat discrimination and to address any such issue with their superiors and work to solve such problems, even those related to this community.

However, from a personal and practical viewpoint it was noticed that only 2 of the 50 teachers present had received trainings on LGBTI rights previously, and these mostly in the context of gender equality and human rights. Several teachers were against the promotion of LGBTI rights and had many negative prejudices and opinions against LGB and trans people. For some of them these trainings were deemed unnecessary while many used incorrect terminology while addressing the community. For some of them being non-heterosexual is a form a deviation and being gay or lesbian is an anomaly.

Considering that these were the first LGBTI trainings to be organized with high school teachers they brought up some important issues such as:

  • The need for the Ministry of Education and Sports (MES) to create a training module for the LGBTI topic, certify trainers and credit teachers who participate in them. In this way the teacher’s efforts and knowledge gained will be officially recognized;
  • The inclusion of the LGBTI topic and issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in the university curricula of future teachers and in the criteria of teachers’ general standards of qualifications;
  • The inclusion of LGBTI topics as a human rights issue in Albanian school curricula;
  • Designing and launching an awareness campaign on discrimination, bullying and differentiated treatment due to sexual orientation and gender identity;

From the presentations and discussions with the teachers it became clear that being LGBTI is not perceived as something related to the system of values that teachers should or can protect in the schools which shows that the education reform should address and prioritize the issues of protection from discrimination and bullying as well as awareness raising and adequate information on the LGBTI topic.

The initiative “Improving the lives of LGBTI people at the local level” is being implemented in the cities of Tirana, Durrës, Elbasan, Korcha, Vlora and Shkodra. In the coming days and weeks PINK Embassy will hold trainings and presentations with teachers and psychologists of high schools in the abovementioned cities.

Part of the initiative will be a study on the perceptions of teachers and students on discrimination and bullying as well as an awareness anti-bullying campaign with high-schools.

PINK Embassy / LGBT Pro Albania wishes to express its gratitude to the Ministry of Education and Sports, Regional Directorates of Education and on the specific case the Directors of the three high-schools of Tirana for their cooperation and support in holding these awareness activities. The initiatives have a historic value for our country and PINK recognizes the will of the Albanian Government to work in combating discrimination and bullying and effectively protect LGBTI students and teachers.

Also on May 7th of this year the Albanian Parliament passed the Resolution “For the protection of rights and freedoms of the people belonging to the LGBT community”. Among other recommendations the Parliament “encourages the Ministry of Education and Sports to train teachers for a better protection of LGBTI people’s rights, in order to prohibit any form of discrimination against them due to sexual orientation or gender identity and to hold cultural activities against homophobia in schools, with the participation of LGBTI community representatives”.

Finally the Ministry of Education and Sport has participated actively in the drafting of the new Action Plan for the protection and advancement of LGBTI rights (2016-2020) currently being prepared by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth and which is expected at the end of this year to be an official Action Plan with the Decision of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania. 

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