Sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) was included in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act No. 10627, otherwise known, as the “Anti-Bullying Act of 2013″. The IRR was signed on December 13 by Bro. Armin A. Luistro, FSC, Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd).
Under Rule II: Definition of Terms of the IRR, “bullying” is defined as “any severe, or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; infringing on the rights of another student at school; or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school”.
These acts include: unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim like punching, pushing, shoving, kicking, slapping, tickling, headlocks, inflicting school pranks, teasing, fighting and the use of available objects as weapons; any act that causes damage to a victim’s psyche and/or emotional well-being; any slanderous statement or accusation that causes the victim undue emotional distress; and “cyber- bullying”.
These acts also include “gender-based bullying”, which is “any act that humiliates or excludes a person on the basis of perceived or actual SOGI.”
According to Michael David C. Tan, publishing editor of Outrage Magazine, the only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) publication in the Philippines, this is a development worth highlighting “particularly because of the higher risk for gender non-conforming people – including members of the LGBT community – to be bullied because of their being different. It is sad that for many LGBT people, getting bullied is somewhat accepted as a ‘norm’, with many bullies actually getting a free pass because they conform to socially acceptable constructs. It is high time we acknowledge that there are those who suffer solely because of their being different, and this is something that should not be tolerated.”
Tan notes, however, a seeming lack of emphasis on the bullying done by schools against members of the LGBT community. “In truth, some of the biggest bullies are the educational institutions themselves, with many putting in place anti-LGBT policies that limit the very access to education of many LGBT Filipinos. This is something that similarly merits attention.”
Under the IRR, all public and private kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools are mandated to adopt policies to address the existence of bullying in their respective institutions. School personnel of public kindergarten, elementary or secondary schools who fail to comply with the provisions of the Act or this IRR shall be subject to administrative disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the Civil Service Rules and the relevant issuances of the DepEd. Meanwhile, school personnel of private kindergarten, elementary or secondary schools who fail to comply with the requirements of the Act or this IRR shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary sanctions as may be imposed by the private school; additionally, the DepEd Secretary may suspend or revoke, as appropriate, the permit or recognition of a private school that fails to comply with the requirements under the Act or this IRR.
Even as he tries to be optimistic, Tan said that “LGBT Filipinos continue to have a wait-and-see attitude on developments like this. Having a law (and the accompanying IRR) does not necessarily mean that we’ll see the good intentions come to fruition,” he said. As such, “I urge LGBT Filipinos to – upon learning of the law and the accompanying IRR – make use of it. Laws that are supposed to protect us are truly only useful if they are actually applied, so make use of them.”
The “Anti-Bullying Act of 2013” was signed into law by Pres. Benigno Aquino III on September 12.