By Isanella Patoir
The Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency, Ann Greene, Thursday evening called for laws to protect LGBTQ students from bullying in school.
Greene delivered the keynote address at the third annual reception to commemorate Spirit Day 2019 at the residence of the British High Commission in Georgetown.
“All groups of people must be respected for who they are without prejudice; for the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) youth there must be laws to protect against bullying in schools,” Greene declared.
Spirit day is an annual observance to speak out about against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth who face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Spirit Day is observed on the third Thursday in October every year and supporters wear something purple.
“This group of people who are treated with oppression and marginalization based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and who are faced with discriminatory civil rights…what do they need most of all?
“…I came to the conclusion it is what each and everyone needs regardless of our identity – we need love and acceptance,” Greene said.
She said that there should be school programmes targeted at LGBTQ students.
According to Greene, there is also a need for safe care centres, housing and safe access to recreational facilities, health services and work for LGBTQ persons.
The British High Commissioner to Guyana Greg Quinn and wife Mrs Wendy Quinn and Guyana’s Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD Guyana) hosted the reception to commemorate Spirit Day 2019.
“It is our belief the LGBTQ community are not asking for special rights, they are merely asking to be accorded the same dignity, the same respects and the same rights as any other citizen,” High Commissioner Quinn said.
A 2017 study showed that 70% of LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed and 71% reported hearing homophobic remarks from teachers.
In addition, 53% of LGBTQ students did not report bullying because they did not think that action would be taken; 60% felt unsafe at school. Of those surveyed, 49% experienced cyber bullying and 60% reported an incident and said that school staff did nothing.
“The fact of the matter is human rights are universal and apply to all,” the High Commissioner said.
The High Commissioner called on all partners to promote diversity and tolerance for persons in the LGBTQ community.
Clinton Duncan, a member of SASOD, led the Spirit day 2019 pledge, which read: “I believe that everyone has the right to live in a community where they feel safe, included, valued and respected, regardless of their differences. I pledge to be respectful of others and stand up against bullying whenever and wherever I see it.”