|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 Anti-Discrimination Act (2008) promotes equality and provides protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It develops special legal actions for protection against discrimination in the field of education and establishes a central body, the Ombudsman’s Office, to tackle it. However, there remain issues in educational institutions including the discriminatory content of textbooks with respect to “gender stereotypes, presenting only two-parent families as a complete family, and stigmatization of gay people.”
Croatia has a Protocol on the procedure in abuse among children and youth (2004) and a Protocol on the procedure in case of abuse and neglect of child (2014). Both documents state that the treatment of children, as well as the exercise of their rights, shall be ensured without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other status. These protocols establish that all educational institutions shall continue implementing existing preventive and intervention policies and procedures, as well as develop new ones consistent with the protocols where necessary, to tackle violence, sexual abuse, neglect, educational neglect, negligent behaviour, abuse, and exploitation. Teachers and associates of educational institutions shall also become acquainted with the provisions of the regulations governing the rights of the learners. To address these issues, the protocols further call for cooperation between educational institutions and entities including nursing homes, social welfare centres, child care centres, family counselling centres, police stations, health facilities, state attorneys, governmental bodies, non-governmental organisations, and religious communities.
The National Curriculum Framework establishes that sexual orientation and gender identity should be discussed as part of secondary education. The study LGBT Topics in High School and Elementary School Textbooks, however, shows that “homosexuality” is mainly mentioned in negative context (sickness – HIV) in biology, psychology and religion textbooks.
A comprehensive curricular reform, was initiated in 2015 by the former government to shift Croatia’s education system. It aimed to enable children and later students to learn skills as well as facts and be more competitive in the labour market. A working group was created with experts from different fields, including teachers and professors. The group worked for over 16 months on the draft of the reform. The topic of sexualitywas, however, only present in biology and lessons related to health, and it was restricted to topics such as “responsible sexual behaviour”. The categories of gender and LGBTQI persons are never mentioned. The planned outcomes include “equality between sexes” (the term gender equalityis not used), human rights and anti-discrimination, but most of the bases for discrimination, such as gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation are not mentioned. For example, there is one outcome that says that the students should be able to recognise different bases of discrimination, but it is unclear how are they supposed to learn them if they are not named. Also, it is peculiar that the topic of human rights is most present in the subject of Catholic religion.
After failed attempts by successive Governments to reform the education system, the initiative ‘Croatia can do better’ organised a protest on 1 June for the second time. As on the protest the year before, thousands of people gathered in Ban Jelačić Square in support of the curricular reform. Work on the reform was continued by the new Minister of Science, Education and Sport, Blaženka Divjak, appointed on 9 June. The draft of the Act regulating the implementation of the new reform contains a regulation saying that if the Education and Teacher Training Agency estimates that a topic or module has a distinct impact on the child’s beliefs and values, they will be defined as non-obligatory and alternative lessons must be provided. Thus, the parents will have the option to decide if the child will attend these lessons or not. This regulation has been interpreted as an influence from conservative member of the group that drafted the Act, and in general conservative groups such as ‘In the Name of the Family’ that are attempting to reinforce the influence of the parents on the curriculum. The new curriculum should start with an experimental implementation in 2018.
No extracurricular activities have been funded in regard to LGBTQI topics. Out of a list of sixty educational programmes that received governmental financial support, none of them address content on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or variations in sex characteristics.
To become a secondary school teacher, it is necessary to have a college degree and certificates in pedagogy and didactics. However, there is no content specifically about LGBTQI topics in the teacher training courses. The latest available research was conducted by the Centre for Women Studies in Zagreb about women and gender related topics in higher education (2016). It shows that the topics related to gender are mostly present in courses that are optional. It could be concluded that mandatory teacher training courses do not include LGBTQI topics.
Learners, and potential future school teachers, who want to know more about LGBTQI rights, however, can participate in optional education programs or courses that are organised by NGOs. The Lesbian Organisation from Rijeka (LORI), for instance, conducted an educational training aimed at school pedagogues, psychologists and teachers in five high schools in Rijeka and two in Opatija. They issued a handbook for teachers and professional associates on peer bullying and harassment against LGBTQI students which was distributed to 400 high schools. They also published two issues of guidelines for the Prevention of Homophobia, Transphobia and Peer Violence on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Schools.
The Regulation on the method of collecting medical documentation and determining the terms and conditions of a sex change or life in different gender identity (2013) specify that a person needs the Opinion of the National Health Council to have their gender recognised. This document states that the collection of medical records shall be established the principle of non-discrimination and that no person shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including surgical gender adjustment, sterilisation or hormonal therapy, for the recognition of their gender. If the person asks for gender recognition based on sex reassignment, then they need the opinions of a psychologist, psychiatrist, endocrinologist and social worker. If they ask for legal gender recognition based on the “life in a different gender identity”, then they need the opinions of the psychologist, psychiatrist and social worker. In the case of a child, a parent or guardian’s consent is required, together with the opinion of a paediatrician.
The government does not provide data on homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and interphobic bullying. There are, however, some pieces of research conducted by civil society organisations.
The government provides no specific support systems for LGBTQI learners or their families. However, Zagreb Pride established a peer-to-peer support group for students for psycho-social support facilitated by two social workers. It is for persons aged 14-21, and was established at the beginning of 2017.
There is information available for learners who have experienced violence. Civil society organisations also provide information on LGBTQI terminology and identities, coming out, human right of LGBTIQ people, advice to straight students on how to support their LGBTIQ friends and co-students, links with local NGOs, and homophobic and transphobic bullying.
The government provides support to civil society organisations to develop work in the field of education. However, civil society organisations report that this support is not continuous. Lesbian Organisation from Rijeka (LORI) and Zagreb Pride organise teacher training, lessons with students and provide information for LGBTQI learners, regardless of the governmental support to carry out these activities.
– Croatia has signed the Call for Action by Ministers – Inclusive and equitable education for all learners in an environment free from discrimination and violence.
– Croatia is not a member of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network.
Two cases of harassment were reported to Zagreb Pride in the last 24 months. One case was reported by a 17-year-old girl who experienced sexist and homophobic comments from a professor in her high school. After an intervention from the Ombudswomen for Gender Equality, the professor stopped making sexist and homophobic comments. The second case was reported by the mother of a 17-year-old boy who experienced verbal harassment and threats of physical violence because of his sexual orientation from other students in his high school. When the mother reported the case to the school psychologists, she was advised that her son should not be open about his sexual orientation and he should ignore what happened.
Zagreb Pride has experienced one explicit rejection while offering the possibility of holding a lesson for students in a high school in Zagreb. (The organisation was also rejected by other high schools, but only because of lack of time/space). In this case, however, the school principal reacted in an offensive manner towards the volunteer who called the school. Also, there had been initiatives from the neo-conservative organisation In the Name of the Family and parents’ organisation GROZD aimed at preventing any kind of LGBTQI and human rights contents of entering into schools, especially via extracurricular lessons delivered by NGOs. They worked on this by sending letters to schools not to accept any programs that are not approved by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport (MSES).
For Schools without Homophobia, Transphobia and Prejudice
This project was implemented from 2015-2016 and included trainings for NGO members in giving lectures to high school students, advocacy in the field of education, lectures for high school students about LGBTQI terminology, and the production of an awareness raising poster for schools and education institutions. It was funded by the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth.
Covers: SO, GIE and SC
Reducing LGBTphobia in High Schools
This project started in 2012 and includes training and guidance for school professionals, a brochure for students, guidelines for the reduction of homophobia, transphobia and peer violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, and lessons for high school students.
Covers: SO and GIE