[Bulgaria] The suppressed voice of LGBTI students in Bulgaria

19 Mar 2020
National Network for Children Bulgaria

The National Network for Children Bulgaria reported that the Single Step Foundation and the Bilitis Resource Center Foundation have produced a report on "Attitudes towards LGBTI students in Bulgarian schools". The report has been prepared on the basis of a survey conducted in the 2017-2018 school year which included 880 participants between the ages of 14 and 19 from all regions of Bulgaria. The study aimed to learn more about the experience of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) students - specifically, whether they are bullied, whether they report this bullying, and whether they are supported.
The survey was conducted through a questionnaire, which was filled out anonymously online by participants identifying themselves as part of the LGBTI community. A common theme among the answers is that young people are going through difficulties that they cannot speak about to either their teachers or their families. 70.6% reported being verbally abused at some point during the 2017-2018 school year because of their sexual orientation, while one-third said they were victims of physical abuse. More than half of the participants (57.4%) were victims of homophobic slurs at least once, even by teachers or other school staff.

In more than 50% of cases where a student had sought help at school, staff advised him or her to ignore the problem. At the same time, more than half of the students say they have never turned to a family member for help. It is important to note that the Law on Protection against Discrimination contains a special section for the prevention of discrimination in the field of education, and each school defines its policy for this protection through regulations. Nikoleta Gabrovska (Executive Director of Single Step) commented to Radio Free Europe that the reason was the lack of a clear explanation of these policies to the children.

A study from the Open Society Institute shows that in 2018, homosexuals were the second most affected group by hate speech after Roma. The NNC noted that "this result coincides with the intense debate over the failed ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention".

The full text of the source article can be found in Bulgarian on the page of the National Network for Children Bulgaria.

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