On 10 December, in commemoration of the Human Rights Day, LGL hosted a discussion “Bullying Suffered by LGBT Children and Adolescents and the Possibilities Provided by Emotional Support Platforms and Helplines” during the National Human Rights Forum. During the discussion LGL presented its emotional support platform for LGBT children and youth, their parents and teachers.
Eglė Kuktoraitė, Communications Manager at National LGBT Rights Organization (LGL), Jurgita Smiltė Jasiulionė, psychologist at Children Line and Dr. Edita Žiobienė, Ombudsperson for the Protection of the Rights of the Child of the Republic of Lithuania took part in the discussion. The discussion was moderated by Kristina Aržuolaitienė, journalist and daily editor at 15min.lt. Ambassador of Sweden in Lithuania H.E. Inger Buxton gave a welcoming speech to the participants of the discussion.
For LGBT youths in Lithuania, school can be an unsafe place for many reasons. When pupils feel unsafe or uncomfortable at school, they may be forced to avoid its places or activities where they feel unwanted, or they may decide to not go to school at all. Hostile atmosphere at school affects the LGBT pupils’ possibilities to get fully involved in the activities of the school’s community. The feeling of insecurity can negatively affect the pupils’ possibilities to strive good learning results, especially if they avoid school or lessons because of this feeling.
Research conducted by the National LGBT Rights Organization (LGL) shows that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic tendencies dominate in Lithuania’s schools. School staff do not know how to appropriately react to these incidents or even contribute to homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying, while the pupils are left to solve this problem without the help from parents or school staff.
In order to solve this problem, LGL and its international partners have created a special platform of emotional support for LGBT children and youths in which well-qualified volunteering psychologists provide emotional support to LGBT pupils who suffer from bullying or other specific problems and to their parents and teachers.
Platforms of emotional support and helplines to children and adolescents receive many phone calls and letters from children who suffer bullying because of their actual or supposed sexual orientation and gender identity. What are the feelings experienced by children who are bullied? What can be done by all of us to help LGBT pupils feel like full-fledged members of the school’s community? What should be done by the parents of the children who suffer from homophobic bullying? The answers to these questions were answered during the discussion.
The emotional support platform for LGBT children and adolescents and info-day discussion is part of the project “CHOICE: Promoting School Environments Inclusive of Diversity based on SOGI”, which is implemented with the financial support of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union.
The info-day was supported by the Office of the Embassy of Canada in Vilnius.