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To Combat Bullying, Cambodia to Teach LGBTQ Issues in School Syllabus

The new lessons are aimed at ending discrimination against, and bullying of, LGBTQ people in the country.

Reuters reports that starting next year, Cambodian students will begin learning about sexual orientation and gender identity from seventh grade. Yung Kunthearith, deputy director of the Department of Health Studies under the Ministry of Education, told the news source that these topics will be part of overall sex education.

"It's about equality," he told the news source. "We want our children to be aware of these issues and know that no one should be discriminated against in school or any part of life."

Cambodia currently has no legislation regarding the LGBTQ community on the books. Same-sex marriage isn't criminalized, but it is also not recognized in any official way.

Attitudes toward LGBTQ people are becoming more accepting in the country, but problems remain. According to a recent report from the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, one in five LGBTQ respondents to a study said they had been denied a job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"LGBTQ Cambodians also continue to face various forms of discrimination, exclusion and harassment...at their workplace," the report says. "The most frequent form of bullying is verbal harassment and 'teasing,' principally from members of the public. Additional to harassment from members of the public, harassment is also being inflicted by colleagues or more rarely by superiors, internal to the workplace."

Ryan Silverio, regional coordinator for the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, an LGBTQ advocacy group, told Reuters that the new classes will help "cultivate a rights-based mindset so children can exercise their agency to transform discriminatory norms."

Thailand is currently the only other Southeast Asian country to include such subject matter in a school curriculum, while around 3,100 Cambodian teachers have been trained to deliver modules on the topics.

[Image via Equaldex]

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