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Colombia: High School Students Speak About Sexual Diversity

Colombian Campaign on Sexual Identity in High School

In Colombia, the government of Medellin has started a campaign to raise awareness on sexual diversity in high schools, and part of the campaign includes online videos of different students speaking about their experiences.

Take Isabela, for example: She's been an advocate for herself since she had to speak to government authorities to intercede on her behalf and get her parents to support her decision to return to school not as a boy, as she had done to that moment, but as the girl she felt she was.  After that first hitch, she found that her school not only supported her decision but actually commended her for being true to herself.  She insists that although some students are hostile, she's also found support and less harassment than she expected. However, she's also had to knock some heads together to get the point across that she won't stand for being abused or insulted.

Katerine believes that being honest about her sexual identity has been the key to being accepted. In her case, classmates took it in stride when she came out as bisexual and she insists that even if some people feel strange or reject her, it is their loss and not hers.

Mauricio also came out as gay in his high school: he's found that most rejection comes from ignorance and fear and he fights back with knowledge. When his classmates tell him he can't sit or go into an area because it is “for men” he insists that he is a student of the school, and a human being. He also declares that the problem is not with gay people, but with homophobia.

Zulangie decided to come out as a lesbian in her school as a way to remove prejudices: teachers, students and administration had put up posters and had said homophobic statements so she decided that being up front about who she was would be a better way to prove that their assumptions and  prejudices were wrong.

Harold is straight, but in his interview he takes the opportunity to speak on behalf of the gay community and how those who have come out of the closet can help those who haven't to open up and be themselves.

And teacher Luz Ángela also gives her perspective: She teaches Ethics and Values at a High School and underlines that they respect students personal decisions and they encourage others to respect diversity: that High School should be a safe place for students to be themselves while learning how to deal with feelings, emotions and caring.

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