Gender and sexual minorities human rights organisation Seta and the European LGBTQI+ youth and student organisation IGLYO demand the Finnish government to address gaps in the wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ youth. The situation of LGBTIQ+ youth across Europe is being discussed at IGLYO’s annual members conference taking place in Helsinki from Friday to Sunday.
“Significant gaps in the rights of gender and sexuality minor children and youth exist all across Europe, also in Finland. We know that LGBTIQ+ youth all over Europe experience violence and discrimination in schools without it being addressed properly. They also lack access to information about diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations. LGBTIQ+ are especially vulnerable because they often feel insecurity in their families“ says IGLYO’s co-chair Anna Robinson.
IGLYO has conducted a European-wide survey on LGBTQI+ Inclusive Education with the participation of over 15.000 LGBTIQ+ young people from all across Europe (13 to 24 year-old). Although results will only be published in 2020, a preliminary analysis shows that only 15% of the respondents have never experienced bullying or harrassment based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and variations in sex characteristics. This goes in line with other European research that shows that LGBTIQ+ students are 2 to 5 times more likely to experience this type of violence.
In Finland, preliminary results from the National School Health Survey (2019) indicate that different forms of violence are more common among especially vulnerable children and youth. The results show that youngsters with a physical disability, who have an immigrant background, who belong to gender and sexual minorities or are placed outside of homes experience significantly more of school bullying, sexually suggestive expressions or harassment, sexual violence and parental psychological or physical violence. (Ikonen & Helakorpi 2019)
Trans youth face mental health challenges more often than gender majority youth. Mental health problems are more frequent also among children who experience gender incongruence. About half of Finnish trans youth has had suicidal thoughts, almost all have experienced psychological violence and half have experienced physical violence. Violence and discrimination are experienced at home and at school.
Through it’s EU Presidency, Finland has sought to lead the advancement of LGBTQI+ rights across Europe. That leadership should, ideally, lead to Europe’s most progressive trans rights legislation in Finland. Progressive trans rights legislation is based on the right of trans people to determine their gender, without medical and bureaucratic intervention, regardless of their age:
“We cannot leave minors out when reforming the trans legislation in Finland. Young trans peoples’ well being increases when they are able to freely express their gender. This includes respecting the name chosen by the person and providing id papers matching their gender. Minors right to self determination also regarding their gender needs to be ensured” says Seve Hujanen, chair for Seta’s youth committee.
The right to non-discrimination is a key principle of the rights of the child. Vulnerable children like those belonging to gender and sexual minorities have the right to special protection.
“Promotion of the rights and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ youth requires targeted measures whether we’re talking about the education sector, social and health services, prevention from violence or youth policies.” says Secretary General Kerttu Tarjamo from Seta. Effective monitoring and evaluation of all these measures is also necessary to ensure they are put in place and followed by all school systems.
A few weeks ago Finland put LGBTI human rights in the core of its EU Presidency by organising a high level LGBTI event in Brussels. At the event results on attitudes towards LGBTIQ+ people were presented. One of the key results was that the attitudes towards gender minorities are much harsher than towards sexual minorities.
“We know that only few countries in Europe have ensured minors’ rights to legal gender recognition. Finland could show further leadership on the European level by addressing trans minors rights in its own trans legislation. Leadership requires concrete steps” says Seta´s Secretary General Kerttu Tarjamo.
Results regarding the well-being of LGBTIQ+ youth will be published in November as part of the national plan to combat violence 2020-2025.
IGLYO is the biggest international LGBTQI+ youth and student umbrella organisation. IGLYO has 95 member organisations in over 40 countries. IGLYO works to make education safe and inclusive for all, build the capacity of young activists and increase visibility of LGBTQI+ people in Europe. IGLYO receives funding from the European Union, Council of Europe’s European Youth Foundation and the Government of the Netherlands.
Annual conference website: https://www.iglyo.com/amc/