|SC||Variations of sex characteristics|
|GR1||Legal gender recognition without self-determination|
|GR2||Legal gender recognition with self-determination (over 16)|
|GR3||Legal gender recognition with self-determination (under 16)|
|FPN||LGBTI focal points network|
|CA||Ministerial call to action|
The Fundamental Decree on Sexual Pedagogy (2015) was issued by the Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs. The decree has similar effect to a law passed by the parliament and it states that sexuality is part of the human development process and that educational institutions have a clear responsibility when it comes to teaching sexual education. According to this document, schools should contribute to enabling children and adolescents to develop their own values, without having to be afraid of being discriminated against on grounds of who they are. Sexual education should be included in cross-disciplinary curricula (i.e. biology, health and education, religion, psychology, etc.) and should be guided by the principle of gender equality and the diversity of humanity (i.e. sexual orientation, gender identities), convey competencies (i.e. critical thinking, communication skills) and be oriented towards international human rights. A controversial public debate followed the adoption of the act.
Furthermore, all nine Austrian regional states (Vienna, Burgenland, Styria, Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Lower Austria and Niederösterreich) offer comprehensive protection from discrimination in the field of education (mentioning sexual orientation). Vienna also offers protection from discrimination mentioning sexual identity. However, the current regulations remain confined to matters falling into the regulatory competence of the concerned states and this results in a substantial gap in legal protection due to absence of legislation on federal level. With regards to gender identity, Vienna is the only regional state with a specific legislation currently in place. If transgender persons feel discriminated against, their complaint is accordingly filed under the discrimination ground of gender, except in Vienna. Neither of the cited statutes makes explicit reference to transgender issues. Transgender-specific issues, including gender identity and transsexuality, are considered by legal doctrine to be covered by the discrimination ground of gender (Geschlecht).
On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Women, a national strategy for the prevention of violence was developed on the basis of relevant literature and intensive discussions with staff. Weiße Feder (2008) is the Austrian national anti-bullying strategy launched by the Ministry of Education. The main goal of this strategy is to promote sensitivity and knowledge about the different forms of violence, social and personal skills against violence and responsibility, and moral courage. Diversity in regard to sexual orientation appears in the mid-term-report evaluation of this strategy, but this is not specifically mentioned in the general guidelines of the national strategy. The strategy also has a binary conception of gender, and diversity in regard to gender identity and expression, or variations in sex characteristics is not referenced. With the national strategy, the Department of Education has brought numerous projects and measures for fairness to the schools. In 1998 the city of Vienna established the Viennese Antidiscrimination Unit for Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Issues (WASt). Its main objective is to tackle prejudices and discrimination directed towards LGBT people. As well as holding public discussions, workshops and speeches, the agency held 31 trainings at different educational institutions within Vienna.
The Fundamental Decree on Sexual Pedagogy(1990) stipulates that inclusive sex education should be integrated into several subjects. The decree is meant as a guiding principle across all different subjects in school. It is embedded in health education and often delivered in the form of projects involving external experts. The program is mandatory for all students.
However, the Austrian school and education system is very fragmented and local activists report that the curriculum varies from school to school. A recent research carried out by TGEU indicates that LGBTQI issues are not addressed in a systematic or standard way in schools even though sexual education is part of the curriculum. There are no specific requirements concerning the number of hours for sexual education, and it is therefore up to the teacher to decide how they integrate sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Variations in sex characteristics are not mentioned, and it is therefore very likely that, if at all, this topic will be addressed in rather normative biological ways, which exclude and further stigmatise intersex individuals in Austrian schools. Studies on the experiences of intersex people in the Austrian education system affirm this assumption.
Several LGBTQI organisations offer workshops to schools and youth centres (see Good practices and campaigns). These organisations or projects, however, are not funded by the public sector. Teachers may invite experts to their school, in order to have a workshop on LGBTQI issues (such as anti-discrimination, diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, variations in sex characteristics or queer friendly sex education). In practice, it is up to the individual teacher to decide how much they include LGBTQI issues into their lessons.
Overall, LGBTQI issues are not included as a compulsory part of teacher trainings, but there are specific training initiatives for teachers. The University of Applied Arts Vienna offers a course on the topic of diversity and (trans)gender in the context of didactics. The University of Vienna offers courses on gender diversity where queer pedagogy is also being taught.
The teaching principles (Unterrichtsprinzipien) function as relevant teaching guidelines for any school subject of a certain school form. According to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, however, teachers are not sufficiently prepared to address LGBTQI issues and either do not cover them adequately or do not include them at all. Verein Ausgesprochen is an association that creates a platform for LGBTQI teachers in Austria. They provide specific workshops and guidelines for teachers.
Currently, there are only administrative procedures for gender recognition; changing name and gender marker in official documents, but there is no specific legislation. In 2006, the Constitutional Court annulled secondary legislation on the ground that it lacked an adequate legal basis (Constitutional Court No. V4/06, 08.06.2006). In 2014, the Federal Ministry for Health issued recommendations according to which a medical opinion is needed prior to any change in the personal status.
The government does not provide data on homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and interphobic bullying. There are nine education inspectorates (one for each federal state) and they might collect specific information within their region, but there is no national regulation about how they segregate it.
Teachers are legally obliged to ensure the mental and physical well-being of students, but there is no specific training. Psychological support systems (school psychologist, school social worker, etc.) might have specific services, but there is no regulation on how to support students who have faced discrimination on grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variations in sex characteristics.
Recently, the government has presented guidelines in the framework of the networking meeting of the national strategy for school violence prevention with specific information about LGBTQI learners. From 2006 until 2008, the Schoolmates project was carried out as an international cooperation project in order to investigate, highlight and combat homophobic bullying. This was an international cooperation project developed by different civil society organisations. In Austria, it was implemented by the association Wiener Antidiskriminierungsstelle für gleichgeschlechtliche und transgender Lebensweisen (WASt).
The Austrian government provides little funding for LGBTQI civil society organisations. The only national funding recipient is an organisation working on the issue of rainbow families called FAmOs. This organisation is funded by the Ministry of Family and Youth. Local governments (by the provincial states) provide limited funding for regional LGBTQI civil society organisations. Information on funding is however not sufficiently clear. For instance, in mid 2015 national council representative, Michael Pock launched a parliamentary inquiry with regards to the general funding situation of LGBTI associations in Austria. Except the Ministry of Health, which provided little information, no answers were given by the remaining ministries, highlighting the funding gap that such investigation would cause.
– Austria signed the Call for Action by Ministers – Inclusive and equitable education for all learners in an environment free from discrimination and violence.
– Austria is member of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network.
In the context of education, more than a third of learners have experienced violence. An online survey shows that 28% of young people are not out in an education setting (mainly students). Furthermore, the term gay is still being used as an insult on a regular basis.
Both the Grundsatzerlass Sexualpädagogik and poster campaign by the LGBTQI teachers’ organisation Ausgesprochen, which aimed at increasing the visibility of LGBTQI issues in schools, faced major public opposition – particularly from conservative, right-wing / catholic organisations and parents’ associations.
This peer education project offers specific workshops on topics like sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, variations in sex characteristics, and queer perspectives.
Covers: SO, GIE and SC
HOSI Linz [www.hosilinz.at/schulworkshops]
HOSI Linz offers workshops on sexual orientation in schools.