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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

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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