LGBT students are being increasingly outed by their teachers in Japan, forcing more students to remain closeted for fear of discrimination, Japan Today reports.
Minako “Minata” Hara, representative director of All Japan Sexual Minorities Support Network, says that there has been a rise in the number of LGBT students who have reached out to the nonprofit after being outed at school.
“Although the LGBT student only consulted with the teacher in charge, the parents found out immediately,” Hara says of one recent incident, adding that Japanese parents often have great difficulty accepting their child’s LGBT status.
In another recent case, a student assigned male at birth privately asked to be included in the female group for a school trip. The teacher then informed the student’s classmates without the student’s consent, and a number of parents later complained to the school.
These teachers aren’t necessarily being malicious by informing parents or classmates of a student’s LGBT status. “Most of the teachers are just acting because they want people around them to be aware,” Hara says. “But since they lack a common understanding, there are cases where they are just playing it by ear.”
The Japanese government has begun working to provide teachers with literature about the LGBT community in an effort to prevent more outings. The Japanese Society of Gender Identity Disorder and the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology both asked the education ministry last month to warn teachers that outing LGBT students could lead to depression or suicide.
“Regardless if there are LGBT students involved we have to have education that deepens understanding of sexual diversity,” says Junichiro Ota, who heads JSPN’s panel on gender identity disorder.
Earlier this year, a survey showed that more than half of LGBT people in Japan were bullied in school, and almost 70% of those bullied said that their teachers did not come to their aid. However, Japan’s education department updated its anti-bullying policy in March to include protections for LGBT students.
Although homosexuality is still a somewhat taboo subject in Japan, the country has made great strides toward equality in recent years. A small group of Japanese politicians joined forces last month to announce the formation of a new coalition dedicated to fighting for LGBT rights. And while marriage equality has not been legalized nationwide, several municipalities and two areas of Tokyo recognize same-sex unions.