Building upon previous research, such as the IGLYO 2013 survey on the impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying on education and employment, Council of Europe 2016 analysis on Equal opportunities for all children: Non-discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) children and young people & European Union lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender 2014 survey by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), IGLYO conducted a survey over the course of 2016, during which the organization asked LGBTQI young people from across Europe to share their experiences of school, captured in the film No More Hiding. Regardless of the country in which they lived, many of their stories were frighteningly similar. UNESCO’s international report, Out in the Open, also shows that the prevalence of violence in schools is between three and five times higher towards LGBTQI young people. The Council of Europe Member States, however, have made specific commitments to warrant the right to education for all students. Despite broadly shared acknowledgement on issues regarding inclusion, non-discrimination and equal representation of LGBTQI youth in education by international human rights organizations and most state members, as well as a number of programmes, campaigns and policies at place, comprehensive overview of the situation within individual European countries was still lacking. This prompted the urgent necessity of creating a useful resource, based on accumulated knowledge of CSOs on the situation of LGBTQI learners, to be used by national governments and relevant state bodies for the evaluation of made progress, sharing of best practices, and mapping of action plans in relation to inclusive education policies.
One of the important elements of IGLYO’s project is that the information is segregated between sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and variations in sex characteristics, to ensure all learners within the LGBTQI spectrum are included. The initial results of the study reveal that:
Based on the gathered data, IGLYO aims to work closely with governments, actively encouraging them to review the data presented and respond before the Report and Index are finalised for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on 17 May.
Inclusive education has been high on the European agenda, and Equinet has been a vocal advocate for strengthening efforts for inclusive education. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižniek, has highlighted the right to education as a fundamental human right and expressed concern over the lack of member states to comply with their international obligations to guarantee inclusive and accessible mainstream education to disabled, Roma and refugee or migrant children.
At national level, Czech Ombudsman Anna Šabatová, in a joint statement with Commissioner Muižnieks, has emphasized the importance of inclusive education in the Czech Republic, identified the obstacles and deficiencies of the Czech education system, while welcoming country’s long-awaited legislative and policy reforms under strong international pressure to phase out segregated schooling, and setting out general recommendations for the state to reach a fully inclusive mainstream education system.
In January 2018, Unia released their Diversity Barometer on Education in Belgium. They found that particular attention must be given to students who face discrimination based on their ethnic origin, social origin, disability or sexual orientation. Inclusive education should be the main principle by which education is organised in Belgium, and the main recommendations that they gave to do this are to:
In May 2016, Equinet, together with the Czech Public Defender of Rights, organised a one and a half day capacity-building seminar for equality bodies’ staff members about gender equality in education. The overall objective of the seminar was to exchange good practices and deepen equality bodies’ expertise on successful measures that may be implemented locally to promote gender equality in the education setting.
In Latvia, the Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic, in cooperation with local DPO “Apeirons”, evaluated the accessibility of higher education institutions in the country, in a survey carried out from June to September 2016. Based on the findings of the study, practical recommendations were made to higher education institutions on physical accessibility and universal learning methods, among other issues. On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities the Ombudsman’s Office organized a conference on “Accessibility of Inclusive Education” on 3 December 2016, focusing on accessibility to mainstream primary, secondary and higher education institutions.
On 13 November 2017 – 10th anniversary of the landmark judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the segregation of Roma children in education, Equinet joined efforts with the OHCHR, ODHR, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), and European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), calling for redoubled efforts at inclusive education.