Table 11: LGBTI Health and the Right to Education

Examples of Human Rights Violations 

  • No information in school curriculum about LGBTI heath/sexual health education for future protection against sexually transmitted illnesses such as HIV and AIDS. Sexual education should be broadened to include specific information about the health of LGBTI persons.
  • LGBTI communities do not have access to opportunities and resources for lifelong knowledge because of discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Secondary schooling does not provide information on LGBTI health issues, nor the equivalent of the preventative health education that is provided on heterosexual health.
  • Secondary schools do not uphold LGBTI health education in their curriculum. As a result, LGBTI youth are not exposed to crucial information in regards to their health, which is necessary as a tool for their future growth and health.

Yogyakarta Principle 

Principle 16: Everyone has the right to education, without discrimination on the basis of, and taking into account, their sexual orientation and gender identity. 

States shall:

• Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure equal access to education, and equal treatment of students, staff and teachers within the education system, without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity;

• Ensure that education is directed to the development of each student’s personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential, and responds to the needs of students of all sexual orientations and gender identities;

• Ensure that education is directed to the development of respect for human rights, and of respect for each child’s parents and family members, cultural identity, language and values, in a spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance and equality, taking into account and respecting diverse sexual orientations and gender identities;

• Ensure that education methods, curricula and resources serve to enhance understanding of and respect for, inter alia, diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, including the particular needs of students, their parents and family members related to these grounds;

• Ensure that laws and policies provide adequate protection for students, staff and teachers of different sexual orientations and gender identities against all forms of social exclusion and violence within the school environment, including bullying and harassment;

• Ensure that students subjected to such exclusion or violence are not marginalised or segregated for reasons of protection, and that their best interests are identified and respected in a participatory manner;

• Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure that discipline in educational institutions is administered in a manner consistent with human dignity, without discrimination or penalty on the basis of a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity, or the expression thereof;

• Ensure that everyone has access to opportunities and resources for lifelong learning without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, including adults who have already suffered such forms of discrimination in the educational system.

Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICESCR 13 The State Parties recognise the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. HRC [Jurisprudence]: observing that “[c]riminalisation of homosexual activity would appear to run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention.”  Toonen v. Australia, HRC Communication No. 488/1992 (CCPR/C/50/D/488/1992).
Human Rights Standards Case Law
ESC 11 With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to protection of health, the Parties undertake, either directly or in cooperation with public or private organisations, to take appropriate measures designed inter alia:(2) to provide advisory and educational facilities for the promotion of health and the encouragement of individual responsibility in matters of health. ESCR: finding “that certain specific elements of the educational material used in the ordinary curriculum are manifestly biased, discriminatory and demeaning, notably in how persons of non-heterosexual orientation are described and depicted …. These statements stigmatize homosexuals and are based upon negative, distorted, reprehensible and degrading stereotypes about the sexual behaviour of all homosexuals. … In the context of the right to protection of health through the provision of sexual and reproductive health education as set out in Article 11§2, this positive obligation extends to ensuring that educational materials do not reinforce demeaning stereotypes and perpetuate forms of prejudice which contribute to the social exclusion, embedded discrimination and denial of human dignity often experienced by historically marginalised groups such as persons of non-heterosexual orientation. … By permitting sexual and reproductive health education to become a tool for reinforcing demeaning stereotypes, the authorities have failed to discharge their positive obligation not to discriminate in the provision of such education, and have also failed to take steps to ensure the provision of objective and non-exclusionary health education.”  Resolution CM/ResChS (2009) 7, Collective Complaint No. 45/2007, International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS) v. Croatia.

Other Interpretations

SR on the Right to Education: Difficulties facing LGBTI youth are often aggravated by their sexual preferences. SR mentions cases of discrimination and exclusion where young girls have been dismissed permanently from educational institutions for displaying affections for same sex classmates.