On November 30th, 2014 Lithuanian news portal lrytas.lt reported that a student was forced to leave Kaunas Juozas Naujalis Music School due to the homophobic bullying by his teachers and classmates. In the meanwhile the mother of the student was reportedly accused by teachers of interfering with the internal school policies as she defended her rejected and humiliated son.
According to lrytas.lt, the physical education teacher initiated a campaign of homophobic bullying by declaring that her student was spending too much time with girls. The teacher thus concluded that his sexual orientation may not be ‘traditional’. Other teachers and students then started to mock the student by calling him ‘gay’.
The mother of the student claims that her son’s complaints were completely ignored by his teachers. The woman repeatedly appealed to high school’s social worker, who assured that the problem will be solved.
However, the situation only got worse. The mother had a chance to openly discuss the situation at school when her son got sick and was absent from the classroom. She learned that he was afraid of going to school due to the persistent homophobic bullying. As a result the mother arrived to the decision to transfer her son to another school.
The classmates of the victim have confirmed the fact of constant bullying. Nevertheless, all teachers at the school firmly deny it. The social worker claimed that the mother of the student had constantly ‘raised scandals’ and requirements for teachers. The teachers accused woman of ‘obsessive control over her son’ and ‘interfering with internal matters at the school’.
The piano teacher was very surprised to learn that the student had to change schools. “This child was meant to study in our school, but his mother decided otherwise. There might have been some incidents of bullying, but they were not extreme. A lot of things occur among children. His greatest misfortune was excessive maternal control. The teenager was always carrying his cell-phone”, claimed the teacher.
However, the mother insists that harassment of her son was initiated by the teacher of physical education. His former classmates also acknowledged that the teacher had constantly harassed him. The student was mocked and deliberately called ‘gay’.
The principal of the school confirmed that the boy was bullied by calling him names. “This distortion apparently originates from the fragmentation in our society when it comes to sexual minorities. Children hear it and they respond. The bullying should be addressed by teachers and social worker”, said the school principal.
The national LGBT* rights organization LGL reminds that homophobic and transphobic bullying has serious educational consequences as it negatively impacts the right to education and it violates the safe space principle at schools. The development of a national LGBT* curriculum and anti-bullying measures for educational institutions could potentially address the problem.
On October 2nd, 2014 the national LGBT* rights organization LGL organized an international conference “Tackling Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying: Challenges and Effective Responses”. LGL has encouraged the participant to sign a resolution demanding Lithuanian Minister of Education and Science to develop and implement a national anti-bullying strategy.