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Bahaghari exposes alleged harassment vs LGBTQIA students of EARIST, stresses need for anti-discrimination law

LGBTQIA students of Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology have alleged discriminatory practices directed particularly to transgender students there. Though communication was sent with Bahaghari, EARIST officials continue to be silent on this.

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LGBTQIA students of Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) have alleged discriminatory practices directed particularly to transgender students, with LGBTQIA organization Bahaghari co-writing and sending communication to EARIST officials to request action over these complaints.

To date – it is worth emphasizing – other than the letter being received, “no other replies from any of the recipients were received”, stressed Bahaghari, adding that students actually allegedly “experienced intensified harassment”, including being blocked from enrollment and kicked out of classrooms.

“The students feel unsafe… They are being discriminated against by the very people who should keep them safe. Our position has not wavered: a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression (SOGIE) has no bearing on their academic performance, and no student should ever be barred from an education or viciously harassed because of their SOGIE,” said Arri Samsico, Secretary-General of Bahaghari.

Among the narratives that reached Bahaghari were:

  • a transgender woman who was misgendered while being reprimanded by school officials (“Sir, sir, p’wede bang mamaya ka na? Masyado kang maraming sinasabi, kanina ka pa eh.”
  • one student allegedly being told that they “look like someone who has HIV/AIDS”.
  • a transgender woman enrollee who was allegedly yelled at, and told: “Babae ka ba? May puke ka ba?! Anong karapatan mong magmaganda?”

For Samsico, these experiences already allegedly experienced could worsen when the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is instituted, with another student allegedly told they could not continue sporting their hair and gender expression once they enter the ROTC program.

EARIST similarly has a “grooming policy” stated in the student handbook, which states that those assigned male at birth may only present themselves as “male”.

The City of Manila actually has an anti-discrimination ordinance, which protects the human rights of LGBTQIA people there. But while EARIST is located within this jurisdiction, “we have also received reports of officials allegedly declaring that the university is not subject to the existing anti-discrimination ordinance in Manila, because it is ‘not a Republic Act (RA) yet’,” Samsico said, adding that this is both “illogical and legally incorrect”.

While waiting for at least a response from EARIST, Bahaghari stated that “the case in EARIST and no doubt in many other schools in the Philippines only reminds us of the urgency for a national anti-discrimination law. The longer that the SOGIESC Equality Bill is not passed into law, the more people are subjected to SOGIESC-based discrimination across the Philippines,” Samsico ended.

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