Japanese LGBT students have faced harassment, violence, exclusion and threats in the country’s schools for decades, according to a new report from New York advocacy group Human Rights Watch.
“The Japanese government has made gestures of support to LGBT students in recent years, but national anti-bullying policies remain silent on sexual orientation and gender identity,” HRW Japan director Kanae Doi said.
The organization released the 84-page report after dozens of interviews with LGBT people, teachers and school staff.
One survey’s results showed that widespread bullying of LGBT youth included brutal insults from both peers and teachers.
As there are no adequate teacher training programs on LGBT issues, homophobic comments are often viewed by teachers as benign.
One gay student said a teacher told him, “Just the fact that you’re standing here talking to me will make people think I’m gay.” Although hateful remarks are the most frequent form of bullying in Japan’s schools, there is a significant number of cases of physical violence.
Transgender students are at higher risk because of traditional gender segregation in schools regulated by numerous school norms. Human Rights Watch researcher Kyle Knight pointed out that students who stood out as different regularly suffered bullying.
“They felt isolated, because they didn’t recognize themselves in their school textbooks or any of the lessons they were being taught,” Kylie said.
“The most important thing to combat this … is to arm the teachers with appropriate information to have LGBT topics included in the curriculum.”
Human Right Watch also published manga in Japanese and English depicting the experiences of the interviewed LGBT students.