Japan refuses to teach its children about LGBT issues

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Children in Japan will not be taught about LGBT issues for at least 10 years after the government decided against including it in the curriculum.

The Japanese government has attracted a backlash from Human Rights Watch after the once-in-a-decade review yet again left out sexual and gender minorities.

HRW said the government had “missed an opportunity” in choosing not to include much-needed information about LGBT people to help children grow and learn.

Japan refuses to teach its children about LGBT issues

The charity condemned the government’s excuse that doing so would be “difficult” because “the public and guardians have not accepted” the topic yet, calling it “patently untrue.”

In a statement, it explained that a two-year survey which concluded in 2013 showed that out of almost 6,000 teachers, between 63 and 73 percent thought LGBT issues should be on the curriculum.

The study, conducted by Osaka-based professor Yasuharu Hidaka, also found that more than half of LGBT people faced homophobic bullying at school.

Just 13.6 percent said teachers had helped resolve the issue.

HRW added that “public opinion aside, Japan’s children have a right to accurate and inclusive education – in particular, sex education.

“Major United Nations agencies, such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and UNESCO, recommend LGBT-inclusive approaches to education.

“Japan’s sex education curriculum falls far short of these standards, and will continue to fail students.”

The charity explained that the current curriculum actually discriminates against sexual minorities, as it excludes them from instructions.

“Japan’s elementary school physical education curriculum instructs teachers to help students understand that ‘when in puberty…young people develop an interest in the opposite sex,’ it said.

“The curriculum for junior high school also notes ‘interest in the opposite sex increases along with the maturation of body functions.’”

HRW detailed how a 14-year-old student in the southern city of Okayama told the charity: “It would make an enormous difference to include LGBT issues in the curriculum.”

The decision is even more disappointing considering the progressive steps Japan has taken over the past month.

In March, for the first time, the country legislated to protect against bullying based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

Japan refuses to teach its children about LGBT issues

The country has also seen its first trans man elected into public office, as Tomoya Hosoda was voted in as a councillor in the city of Iruma.

A city in Japan became the first to recognise a first same-sex couple as foster parents, with the gay couple in Osaka officially fostering a teenage boy.

And also last month, it was announced that two million more people will be able to have their LGBT relationships legally recognised from June.

Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, became the first Japanese city to do so.

HRW welcomed these steps and others which helped the country’s LGBT people, because they “affirm that attraction to people of the same-sex and development of gender identity are natural variations of human life.

“Unfortunately,” the charity continued, “Japanese students won’t be hearing that in classrooms anytime soon.”