Revision to Basic Principles for Preventing Bullying asks for better understanding of LGBT students among school teachers.

It’s one scene from ”The Nail That Sticks Out Gets Hammered Down LGBT bullying and exclusion in Japanese schools”. The caption of this scene says “some teachers have direct homophobia”.

Basic Principles for Preventing Bullying will be revised to stipulate LGBT students are also under the protection of the principles at educational institutions. On February 7th, Bullying Prevention Committee agreed on the revision to prevent bullying towards LGBT students.

Manuals for dealing with bullying will be sent to schools. The manuals stipulate the importance of better understanding of sexuality, gender identity,and gender identity disorder and measures to be taken in order to prevent bullying towards LGBT students and victims of the 3.11 earthquake.

The revision will be opened to the general public in Public Comment next March.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) contributed greatly for the revision to be enacted.

In 2015, HRW conducted surveys on bullying towards LGBT students in Japan. (The surveys were conducted among several dozen LGBT students or graduated students in 14 prefectures in Japan.) In 2016, HRM released a report, “The Nail That Sticks Out Gets Hammered Down LGBT bullying and exclusion in Japanese schools.” This report caught so much attention and Boards of Education and PTAs all over Japan asked for the report so that they can use it as a guideline for LGBT students. The manga-styled report, illustrated by Taiji Utagawa, brings into relief the reality that school teachers are exacerbating LGBT discrimination in Japan.

In 2015, Ministry of Education distributed to Boards of Education guidelines for handling issues of students with gender identity disorder. The guidelines included explanation of sexual orientation and examples of support system for transgender students. In 2016, a guideline for LGBT students, “Regarding the start of careful measures for issues on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender identity disorder” was distributed to school teachers.

The guideline explained the importance of acquiring knowledge of LGBT rights and measures to be taken to protect LGBT students. However, those guidelines were nothing more than a guideline without binding force.

Before the revision to Basic Principles for Preventing Bullying was enacted, HRW pointed out that the exclusion of bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity from the principles contributed to discriminatory attitudes and behaviors towards LGBT students. School teachers had few chances to know LGBT people and their issues, which exacerbated LGBT bullying at schools.

“In Japan, LGBT students are exposed to so much discrimination at schools. They get silenced, lose their self-esteem, and sometimes hurt themselves. We hope the revision will be a milestone that gives opportunities for school teachers to know LGBT students and help them pursue their dreams without worrying about discrimination at schools.” HRW said.