Protecting the Rights of the LGBTQ Child
The second article of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ensures the right not to be discriminated against – in any way. This includes the right to not be discriminated against for one’s sexual orientation or gender preference. Children identifying as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning), growing up in households with LGBTQ parents, or even perceived to be, are subject to many forms of discrimination in most countries around the world.
To ensure that these children are able to fully realize their rights, positive social norms must be encouraged through education, law, and policies encouraging diversity and acceptance. Throughout the last decades, while many nations have recently been strengthening laws to combat LGBTQ discrimination, in over 80 countries around the world citizens are still subject by law to severe criminal punishment for homosexuality. No international treaty explicitly addresses this right.
Closely related to human rights, and strongly attached one’s identity, sexual rights of children and youth are often not addressed, as discussions on this topic are considered taboo and inappropriate by many. However, the failure to address this issue leads to further discrimination of children. This is mainly due to lack of education.
LGBTQ children and youth are much more likely to be bullied, harassed, isolated, or subjected to violence. In many communities, they are outcast and prevented from participating in most aspects of society. LGBTQ children and youth are more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. Health risks tend to rise as students lack access to appropriate education and health services.
National laws in many countries around the world make homosexuality illegal, and others outlaw the “promotion of sexuality,” preventing children from learning about the different gender identities and sexual orientations with which an individual may identify. Some nations may outlaw homosexuality to the extent that one can be executed for homosexual acts. Other nations, or even individual communities and families, may perform medical or psychological procedures, or even “corrective rape” to “treat” homosexuality in LGBTQ children, grossly violating their rights.
Children growing up in families with LGBTQ parents are often denied the same rights as children growing up in single-parent families or families with heterosexual parents. Due to lack of recognition by some governments, these children are often not able to access the same social security measures as children growing up in “typical” families. Regarding homosexual couples, many nations allow guardianship of a child to only one parent, which can be harmful to children in cases of parental involvement in health and education.
Children growing up with LGBTQ parents must be entitled to the same social security measures, and must be protected from discrimination and violence that may arise from their parents’ identities.
Educating to Prevent Discrimination
Education is the most effective way to prevent the discrimination of LGBTQ children and families. Freedom of thought, opinion, and expression is threatened when
a child is not taught about LGBTQ issues and rights, and when an LGBTQ child is not able to express his or her identity. Educating children in an open, informed manner, no matter their sexual orientation, on the variety of gender identities and orientations, leads to acceptance and prevents discrimination.
Nations must not prevent schools and teachers from talking about and discussing sexuality, and violations of their right to non-discrimination must be prevented. Nations have a duty to write laws that promote LBGT rights and punish those who attack or discriminate against LGBTQ children, youth and adults.
Written by: Katie Krakow
Review by: Alice Sellers
Review by: Olivier Soret
- http://ifm-sei.org/files/up/rr-english_web.pdfhttp://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/PDFs/Current_Issues_Paper-_Sexual_Identification_Gender_Identity.pdfhttp://ifm-sei.org/files/up/rr-english_web.pdfhttp://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/PDFs/Current_Issues_Paper-_Sexual_Identification_Gender_Identity.pdfPlan: Girls’ Rights (in French)
- Institut International des Droits de l’Enfant: Children’s Rights: What about the girls? (in French), 2002