Erasmus+ KA1 Adult Education Staff Mobility Programme – Project report

Erasmus+ Adult Education Staff Mobility Programme;  Contract number:14/KA1AE/433

Introduction of the project „Raising the quality of sexual diversity education” of the LGBTQ section of the Hungarian Psychological Association (HPA)

Within the frames of the Erasmus+ Adult Education Mobility grants seven members of the Association’s LGBTQ section had the opportunity to take part in two mobility courses abroad, in October 2014 in Riga, Latvia, and in July 2015 in Sitges, Spain. On the courses held by the Dutch Global Alliance for LGBT Education  (GALE) we explored and discussed the forms of homo- and transphobia, exclusion and abuse in schools, survey methods and various applicable policies against them on the institutional level.

Inroduction of the course organisers

GALE, which is a formal cooperating partner of UNESCO, is a learning community focusing on education about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. They promote the full inclusion of people who are disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation, sexual identity and their expression by identifying, enhancing and sharing educational expertise. The membership of the community is free and open to anyone actively involved in education about LGBT issues.

Their platform involve more than 700 educators, who act in the field of sexual diversity education. GALE is supported by and works in consultation with the Dutch government and the European Commission.

The long history (more than 10 years) of the organization and the wide range of their experience guaranteed the successfulness of the courses. Peter Dankmeijer, the head of GALE is at the same time the head of the Dutch Expertise Centre on Education and Sexual Diversity (EduDivers), which has an even longer history of cooperation with the Dutch educational system.

GALE’s practice involves the cooperation of LGBTQ NGOs, the school management committee and the education policy body of the government for elaborating school policies essential for a safe school climate and for the initiation of the universal right of education.

On the participants of the courses

The participants of the courses were from seven countries (Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands), mostly representing European LGBTQ NGOs, but there were also teachers and an EU-level policy maker among them.

Assessing Homophobia in Schools”, 2014. október 6-8. Riga

During the major part of the course we get suggestions on how to examine homo- and transphobia in schools, and all forms of social exclusion, bullying, the school climate in the whole.

The organization was citing examples from its Dutch and international practice to demonstrate what research methods are useful in several constellations (the professional and research goals of the organization, the type of the school, its inner needs, etc.), how to examine the needs of schools (teaching staff, students) before setting up a research.

For this reason it is of crucial importance that both the teachers and the activists have the information and skills which are essential to sensitize the students for the needs and issues of LGBTQ people, and to enhance tolerance.

Posing the appropriate questions is also useful in the afformentioned process.

We were introduced to adoptable good practices for all these aspect of research and sensitization.

The detailed examination of the research and evaluation methods didn’t bring many new information for majority of the participants of the section, but the concrete and illustrative examples drawn from GALE’s Dutch and international practice turned out to be very useful.

Sexual Diversity in Schools”, 2015. július 12-17. Sitges

As the combined course of three previously planned courses („Dealing with strong opinions”, “Peer education”, “Combating homophobia in schools”) the „Sexual Diversity in Schools” course was focusing on how to promote and support a safe school environment with education, which is equipped with tools working with stereotypes, „strong opinions”, for all kinds of social exlusion, especially SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)-phobia.

Being a more interactive course than the Riga course it’s major aim was to get the participants acquainted with interactive educational techniques which could be applied during LGBTQ education programs. Among others, we were introduced to the use of specific dramatic and simulation games, techniques of mirroring and „de-gaying”, and variations of question types.  Given the participants from the section were mainly psychologists or psychology students and LGBTQ activists at the same time, they had previous notions and personal experience of some of the methods learnt here, but they were still useful.

The course deepened our knowledge on specific forms of SOGI-phobia in the teenager age-group, and the ways they can be handled. We learned the most from interactive situations.

We were introduced to various ‘triggers’ (mainly short films) which can be used among teenagers as the beginning of a sensitization training as a „scanning”, with affecting emotions after which they can reflect on their own and each other’s thoughts.

The course put a huge emphasize on promoting the overview of the attending organizations’ structure and operations with grasping the strengths and weaknesses in order to set more definite goals and to increase efficiency. Small-group reflexions on an organizational level were created to this end which turned out to be very useful.

An other aspect of the course was focusing on the methods with which a change can be achieved on organisational and attitudinal level necessary for a safe(r) school climate.

Summarizing them, we were introduced to the GEEC-matrix, standing for the goals of the schools, the environment needed to reach them, the ways of education of the teachers and the students, plus the ways of the social and psychological care of the students. These should be defined by the management of the school at the beginning of setting up a school-change plan.

Moreover, we examined are own professional goals and methods in the process of sexual diversity education, and how our social upbringing, potential (internalized) heteronormativity can affect our work as an educator or psychologist.

General evaluation of the courses

The two courses complemented and supported each other, while they weren’t explicitely built on each other; the specific methodology of the rather theoretically founded Riga course was widened and deepened with a lot of personal experience and interactive situations, which enhanced learning with an enjoyment factor. The courses could provide model for the professional of similar trainings. It should be noted, that GALE has a wide range of toolkit, most of which is openly available on their webpage[1], and could be a useful aid for setting up a research.

One of the most positive aspect of the courses was getting acquainted with the Dutch experiences and good practices, as an ideal examples of a cooperation between an (LGBTQI) NGO and education policymakers. As yet it is unfortunately not easy to adapt the Dutch example in Hungary, but that is why it is even more important that Eastern Europe be represented in such events.

The courses yielded a lot for each participant, taking into account either their psychologist, educator, lawyer, mediator or volunteer practice. The mobilities and their requisites enhanced the cooperation within the section and the HPA, and with Hungarian and international NGO-s as well.

Pilot-survey

After the mobilities we set up and carried out a research among secondary school students using an online questionnaire considering the recommendations of GALE. We examined the attitudes of secondary school students towards various minority groups (refugees, gipsies, lesbian women and gay man).

You can find the summary of our research on the following link: http://mpt.hu/a-tarsasagrol/szervezet/szekciok/lmbtq-szekcio/overview-of-our-pilot-survey/

An other European example of cooperation…

The project indirectly generated a further international collaboration between the Network of European LGBTIQ Families Associations (NELFA) and a related NGO of the participants

initiated by the Swiss attendee of the Riga course, who is the head of NELFA, with which the attendees took / take part in an anti-discrimination project (Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme) of the European Union as associate partners.

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A programot a Tempus Közalapítvány támogatta.

[1]      http://www.gale.info/