Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced its newly approved textbooks for junior high schools. It turned out that the four textbooks companies out of eight include descriptions of LGBT people in their moral education textbooks. The descriptions of LGBT people have been included in some high school textbooks, but not in the ones for junior high school students.
The textbook published by Gakko Tosho (meaning school books in Japanese) says “there are three personal senses of our own’s gender: Body, Identity, and Orientation. In most cases, gender identity can be the same as the sex assigned at birth and most people are attracted to someone of the opposite sex, but some people have gender identity different from the sex assigned at birth. About five to eight percent of our population identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender(LGBT). You might find yourself in a place where discrimination against LGBT people is tolerated, but it is very important to stand up against the discrimination.”
The textbook published by Nihon Kyokasho (meaning Japanese textbooks) has a story of a transgender woman, who was born boy at birth. The story describes the life of the transgender woman and the process how she decides no make a confession to her teachers in the end. The lyrics written by Ataru Nakamura, a transgender singer are introduced as “Todoketai Kotoba,” meaning “message to send”.
“We made this textbook in the hope that children will better understand human rights and embrace diversity instead of discriminating against LGBTQ people, ”said, Midori Shiraki, a professor of Kanazawa Institute of Technology and the supervisor of the textbook.
“We would like to provide a opportunity for students to know how diverse our gender is and think about how we all can have a safe school life. Treating LGBTQ students in different ways will not help them at all. We need seminars and trainings for school teachers.” Daisuke Watanabe, a professor of Saitama University said.
A news reporter from NEWS ZERO, one of the major TV news programs in Japan, said “the Constitution stipulates that every single person deserves the right to be respected. It is one of the basic human rights that we all have.”
Descriptions that deny the existence of gay people and no sexual people, such as “people start getting attracted to someone of the opposite sex in puberty,” became a big issue among the Japanese LGBTQ community last year. However, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology didn’t do anything about it saying “it is too soon for Japan to teach students because Japanese citizens haven’t agreed on it.”
Now that half of the textbooks used in public schools include descriptions of LGBTQ people, a lot more junior high school students will have opportunities to learn sexual diversity at school. That is such a big step forward.