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LGBTQ Plus

Rare Poll Finds LGBT Students Fear School Because Of Bullies

At a Pride Parade in Bogota, Colombia
At a Pride Parade in Bogota, Colombia

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — A majority of gay and lesbian students in Colombia feel unsafe in school and almost a quarter of them miss classes because they fear getting bullied, a survey by two non-profits found. Sixty-seven percent of LGBT secondary schoolchildren feel unsafe at school, according to the poll by advocacy groups Colombia Diversa and Sentiido, which surveyed 500 students.

A 14-year-old bisexual student said she had not yet come out as her school would "open a disciplinary folder and force her to see a psychologist." An 18-year-old said he was relieved to have finished secondary school. He said he was tired of hearing one teacher repeat that gay men would "end up with a ripped sphincter," research by the study found.

Juliana Martínez, a member of Sentiido and a lecturer at the American University, told El Espectador that there are no figures on bullying of LGBT students at Colombian schools. "We're practically guessing ... (as) it is often not recognized as violence," she said.

The poll found that 59% of victims prefer to not speak up about the intimidation they face. This is not surprising. Many schools and parents blame the LGBT student, not the bully. Constitutional rights and the education ministry's rules are rarely enforced in schools. Sergio Urrego, a gay student who committed suicide in August 2014 after relentless bullying, has finally made Colombians wake up to the toxic environment in schools.

The study offered solutions to reduce bullying of LGBT students at school such as monitoring the language students use in classrooms. It's impossible ... to build a country at peace, when our educational institutions are favorable settings for war and violence," the survey noted.

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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