|Variations of sex characteristics
|Legal gender recognition without self-determination
|Legal gender recognition with self-determination (over 16)
|Legal gender recognition with self-determination (under 16)
|LGBTI focal points network
|Ministerial call to action
The federal Belgian anti-discrimination legislation consists of three acts, all of which are of equal value. The Act Prohibiting certain forms of discrimination (2007) prohibits discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The Gender Equality Federal Act (2007, Art. 4), for its part, protects in particular discrimination based on a gender identity and gender expression since 2014.The act states that discrimination based on gender identity or expression is equated with discrimination based on sex. Neither of these acts, however, specifically mention variations in sex characteristics as protected grounds of discrimination. Despite this, the government reports that the academic field is currently analysing the added value of introducing sex characteristicsto know which specific cases would this cover that are not currently covered by sex, state of health or physical/genetic characteristics.
The competences of education are transferred to the communities of the country. The three different communities (French, Flemish and German) have adopted their own decrees against discriminationthat are also applicable within educational settings. All of these decrees are similar and mention specifically discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation since 2008 and include gender identity and gender expression since 2013.
The interfederal action plan against homophobic and transphobic violence (2013) specifies several measures to tackle violence addressed to LGBT people. As a fourth priority, this plan states that schools should raise awareness about this issue. The plan also recommends the amendment of legal texts to include gender expression and gender identity as grounds of discrimination, which has already taken place (see Anti-discrimination law).
Flanders has its own horizontal policy plan, with a particular focus on the federated competences, such as education. One of the objectives in the action plan is the wellbeing of LGBT people, focusing on residential elderly care, sports, education (training and coaching for educational organisations) and a new children’s and youth’s rights policy plan.
According to the aforementioned inter-federal action plan, the Flemish Community is committed to paying adequate attention to the teaching of LGBT and gender issues by conducting an integral policy, collaborating with all educational networks (umbrella organisations) and relating to various aspects within educational institutions and organisations. Within Flemish education, this work is predominantly ensured through the cross-curricular final objectives and development goals as well as by all leading educational organisations’ Joint Declaration on a policy regarding gender and LGB in education (2012).
The French Community has published a teaching guide which proposes a set of actions within the framework of extra-curricular activities. This community has an interdepartmental decree to mainstream education for relational, emotional and sexual life (EVRAS) in schools and the document refers to LGBTQI diversity. However, civil society organisations report that the effectiveness of this protocol is very difficult to evaluate.
Education in the German Community integrates these topics by promoting the development of learners’ personal and social skills through its attainment targets.
There is currently no mandatory teacher training on LGBTQI awareness. However, there are specific courses that teachers can follow. Çavaria has a special training program for teacher training degrees within the Flemish Community. The organisation gives around 20 guest lectures a year, but this not a mandatory subject and not all not all teacher training colleges and schools of education will include topics. The French Community has a mandatory course entitled Theoretical and practical approach on cultural diversity and the gender dimension, and it can address this topic, but not systematically.
Since 2007, the Transgender Federal Act (2007) provided people with a legal basis for the registration of the change of their gender and name. This law, however, made legal gender recognition dependent on a certification by a psychiatrist and a surgeon stating that the person concerned is convinced they belong to the opposite gender to which is indicated on their birth certificate, and that the applicant has undergone sex reassignmentto such point as it is medically possible and justified, and that they cannot conceive children. There is no age restriction, but non-emancipated minors must make this declaration along with their mother, father or legal counsel.
On 1 January 2018, new gender recognition legislation (2017) based on self-determination came into force. According to the new legislation, a minor aged 16 or older can make an application to have their registered gender changed, but a child psychiatrist must certify that they have “the necessary capacity to have the lasting conviction” that their gender identity is different than the one at birth. There is also a three-months “reflection period”. After this period (and before 6 months), the applicant must certify that they still believe their gender identity does not match the one assigned at birth, that they are aware of the administrative and legal consequences of changing their birth certificate and that they know this change is irrevocable. Additionally, the public prosecutor can advise against the procedure. An absence of advice equals a positive advice (Legal Gender Recognition is granted). Returning to one’s original gender marker happens through a court proceeding. Legal Gender Recognition is possible starting at 16, provided a psychiatrist constitutes that the minor has “the necessary capacity to have the lasting conviction” that their gender identity is different than the one at birth. This is not a diagnosis. Changing one’s first name is possible starting at 12. The new legislation also puts an end to the sterilisation requirements and the mental health diagnosis previously required in order to have access to legal gender recognition in terms of the Transgender Federal Act (2007).
The Action plan against homophobic and transphobic violence (2013) states that research is currently methodologically inadequate and there is a need for coordination of scientific research. The document recalls that interdepartmental working group is responsible for the national exchange of existing research results and should encourage national expansion of scientific knowledge. In particular, the action plan highlights the need of studies on the well-being of young people and their experience in regard to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
The Federal Centre for Equal Opportunities has developed a diversity barometer on education (2018) to monitor discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. This tool reviews existing work in relation to diversity policies and practices on inclusive education. The barometer mostly studies sexual orientation, and addresses gender identity in a more limited way. This is because the inter-federalcentre for equal opportunities has more expertise in the field of sexual orientation.”
All three Communities have support systems for LGBT learners. The French Community has a free helpline and other support systems. The LGBTQI NGO CHEFF also organises activities outside school for learners and offers listening sessions. In the Flemish Community, Wel Jong Niet Hetero and local LGBT youth groups give trainings for students in schools and there are Gay Straight Alliances in some schools. Çavaria offers an LGBT helpline (phone, mail, chat) and Wel Jong Niet Hetero has an online forum were young LGBT people can meet.
The Flemish Community has produced a number of manuals to guide teachers on how to address LGBT issues in schools. A website provides tips for gender neutral and LGBTQI-friendly schools and resources against bullying at school. The French Community has also some specific campaigns to tackle bullying in schools.
The government provides support and funding for LGBTQI civil society organisations in all the three regions.
– Belgium signed the Call for Action by Ministers – Inclusive and equitable education for all learners in an environment free from discrimination and violence.
– Belgium is member of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network.
çavaria education project [www.schooluitdekast.be]
This project aims to develop teacher training, educational materials for teachers (from kindergarten till secondary schools), and advocate on inclusive education.
Covers: SO, GIE and SC
Declaration gender and sexual diversity in education
All school umbrella organisations (public, private) signed a declaration to include gender and sexual orientation in the education system.
Covers: SO, GIE
This is a group of young gay and bisexual people who answer questions about their sexual orientations at their schools.