“I thought of myself as defective”: neglecting the rights of LGBT youth in South Korean schools

Case Studies & Research
Human Rights Watch
84 p.

In South Korea, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students encounter a range of challenges in educational environments. Many LGBT students experience bullying, harassment, and exclusion in school, which can jeopardize their physical safety and mental health. They often lack support systems, and worry that teachers and counselors will disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to others if they turn to them for help. LGBT issues generally are not included in sexuality education curricula, and students rarely encounter messages recognizing LGBT people and affirming their human rights. Drawing from interviews with more than 60 current and former students, educators, and advocates, “I Thought of Myself as Defective” explores the difficult environments that LGBT students often navigate in schools in South Korea. This report, produced in conjunction with the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, documents how mistreatment and a lack of protections in schools can jeopardize the rights and well-being of LGBT students. To better protect the rights of all students in South Korea, lawmakers should enact comprehensive antidiscrimination legislation that protects LGBT people in schools and other settings. Officials should also take positive steps to ensure that LGBT children are protected from bullying and have access to the information and support they need, from information about gender and sexuality to confidential mental health resources in and outside of school.

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