Press Release

The UN in Viet Nam Joins its Partners to Promote Safer Schools for LGBTIQ+ People

04 November 2021

Ha Noi (Viet Nam), 6 November 2021 ­– The United Nations (UN) in Viet Nam – in coordination with the University of Education, Viet Nam National University (VNU-UEd) and Viet Nam Network of Young Key Affected Population (VYKAP) – today held a dynamic, multistakeholder webinar showcasing efforts of the VNU-UEd and LGBTIQ+ NGOs to build safer learning environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) students. Entitled “For Safer Schools for LGBTIQ+ People,” the hybrid event is the culmination of the 2021 UN Free & Equal Campaign. It is the center-piece of an awareness-raising social media campaign #StandwithPRIDE #viTUHAO_HANHDONGnao launched in mid-October, which seeks to show educators their power to build inclusive societies through teaching comprehensive sexuality education and celebrating inclusion and diversity.

The 2021 UN Free & Equal campaign’s emphasis on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools, with a strong focus on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC), results from consultation with a wide range of Vietnamese partners working on LGBTIQ+ rights. These issues are considered vital in ensuring the acceptance and rights of LGBTIQ+ people in all their diversity, as well as promoting safe sexual practices among youth. In this context, the 2021 UN Free & Equal campaign embraces current and future teachers as important agents of change. The campaign makes efforts to engage with hundreds of trainee teachers to enhance their understanding of SOGIESC concepts and encourage them to integrate these topics into their teaching, which will ultimately result in safer learning environments for all students.

In his opening remarks at the event, Vũ Trần Dũng, Founder and Network Senior Advisor of VYKAP, observed that “friends, teachers, and families make up a triangle of forces with direct and profound influence on adolescents and young students. However, the reality in many education institutions is that sexuality education for secondary and university students is still under-prioritized and follows restricted standards.” This results in knowledge gaps and misconceptions about SOGIESC, and young people not having the knowledge or being unable to access adequate sexual health services, including services for HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections.

A pre-campaign survey of 100 trainee teachers aged 19 to 28 years shows that 85% of those surveyed agree with this vision, which also strongly aligns with the national agenda to incorporate CSE into formal education through teacher training. Despite this, 77% of trainee teachers expressed that they do not feel sufficiently informed on SOGIESC and issues affecting the LGBTIQ+ community to effectively impart knowledge to their future students. 98% of those surveyed indicated that their knowledge on these topics came from the internet, media, friends or direct interactions with the LGBTIQ+ community, with only 2% stating that they were taught about these issues at school.

Professor Dr. Nguyễn Quý Thanh, Rector of the VNU-UEd – one of the largest teacher training institutions in Viet Nam – emphasized the role of future teachers in creating long-term impactful change towards greater acceptance of diversity. According to Dr. Thanh, “each teacher in training is also an individual, a future global citizen, and a part of the inherent diversity of life. When equipped with a deeper, multidimensional and comprehensive view, these future teachers will contribute to promoting safer school environments, where all differences and diversities are respected. After today’s event, all of us, as educators, students and members of the community, will have a greater understanding of the importance of acceptance and respect, so that we can become proud of our role as teachers, those who have been, and will continue to be, participating in the building of safer schools for all.”

Mr. Christian Manhart, UNESCO Representative in Viet Nam, further reinforced the vital role of partnership in education in creating safer schools to support LGBTIQ+ communities.

“The event today is symbolic of a strengthened partnership between the VNU-UEd, VYKAP and the UN in Viet Nam, united in a common belief that supporting a safer education environment for LGBTIQ+ students and all their classmates is one of the most important contributions to the development of education in the nation. Together, we join hands for a more resilient and inclusive Viet Nam, where no one is left behind.” – Mr. Christian Manhart said.

 

Background Information on the 2021 UN Free & Equal Campaign in Viet Nam

UN Free & Equal is an initiative launched by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2013 as a global UN public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTIQ+ people. In addition to global campaigns and events organized by the United Nations, targeted national events have been organized in almost 30 countries with the support of the UN and non-UN partners at the country level. This is the third year that a UN Free & Equal campaign has been organized in Viet Nam. UNESCO has led the coordination of the campaign, with support from UNAIDS and UNDP, working in partnership with the University of Education, Viet Nam National University (VNU-UEd) and Viet Nam Network of Young Key Affected Population (VYKAP).

As part of the 2021 UNFE campaign in Viet Nam, the social media campaign #StandwithPRIDE #viTUHAO_HANHDONGnao is spreading knowledge on SOGIESC, the status of school-related gender-based violence, and real stories from insiders. Set to end on 10 November, the social media campaign has to date released 11 out of 13 posts, currently averaging 20,000 organic reach per post on the United Nations in Viet Nam Facebook page. Contents showcasing statistics about gender-based violence experienced by LGBTIQ+ students in school and demonstrating the imaginings of what a safer school environment means to LGBTIQ+ students’ continue to draw interest, gathering 56,000 and 33,000 organic reach respectively.

The hybrid webinar “For Safer Schools for LGBTIQ+ People”, which opened a fruitful dialogue about CSE and SOGIESC in schools, included a panel discussion with Associate Professor Dr. Phạm Mạnh Hà, Director of the Center for Training and Cooperation (VNU-UEd), Associate Professor Dr. Trần Thành Nam, Dean of the Faculty of Education Sciences (VNU-UEd), Vũ Trần Dũng, Founder and Senior Network Advisor of VYKAP, and other members of the LGBTIQ+ community.

The livestream of the hybrid webinar event can be viewed on its Facebook event page.

For more information, see the United Nations in Viet Nam website, or contact:

Ms. Hoang Huyen
Communications Officer 
UNESCO Office in Viet Nam 
Email: th.hoang@unesco.org

The UN in Viet Nam Joins its Partners to Promote Safer Schools for LGBTIQ+ People

Hoang Thu Huyen

UNESCO
Communications Officer

UN entities involved in this initiative

OHCHR
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN
United Nations
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Goals we are supporting through this initiative