|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 Estonian Constitution enlists the grounds of protection against discrimination, including gender, but not sexual orientation. The Chancellor of Justice gave an authoritative opinion in 2011, claiming that the open list of grounds of discrimination in Article 12 of the Estonian Constitution includes sexual orientation.
The Equal Treatment Act (Chapter 1, Section 2, 2009) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in vocational guidance, vocational training, advanced vocational training and retraining, but not in elementary, secondary or upper secondary schools. Chapter 3, Section 13 of the Equal Treatment Act states that “educational and research institutions and other entities and person organising training shall, upon determination of the content of studies and organisation of studies, take account of the need to promote the principle of equal treatment”.The first two Equality Commissioners (National Equality Body) have implemented the law in the manner that the anti-discrimination provision covers university studies since these provide a person with an occupation (all the expressed examples in the law deal with the vocational or occupational education). However, the Equal Treatment Act does not protect learners against discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in the above mentioned general educational institutions.
For its part, the Gender Equality Act (2004) has a wide scope of application, including the field of education. The law does not explicitly mention the term “gender identity”, but states that direct discrimination based on sex means also less favourable treatment of a person in connection with other gender-related circumstances (§ 3, sub 1 (3)). The first two Equality Commissioners´ have interpreted this law broadly to cover discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and hence investigated in their practice cases of discrimination of trans people.
The Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (2010) does not prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variations in sex characteristics, but it states that schools, in accordance with their internal rules, should ensure and protect the mental and physical security and the protection of the health of students during their stay at school and take measures to prevent mental and physical violence. Supervision over students throughout the school day should also be ensured for this purpose.
There are no national policies or action plans to tackle homophobic, transphobic or interphobic bullying or promote LGBTQI inclusion. The Youth Strategy (2014-2020) of the Ministry of Education and Research mentions anti-discrimination and promotion of equality as one of its underlying principles. However, it does not enlist any grounds of protection against discrimination.
A Foundation Against Bullying in Schools was created in 2011 with the aim to raise awareness about school bullying and how to stop it. The foundation is partly financed by the government through grants to civil society.
The Decree on National Curriculum (2011) enlists the values of the curriculum, including tolerance, gender equality, cultural diversity etc. and it emphasises the need to learn to accept differences and respect diversity in the society, but it does not mention LGBTQI rights nor contain content on LGBTQI issues. National Curriculum focuses on skills and values that the learners should learn in school, the more detailed curriculum is drafted by each school.
In the national database on curricula by topic, gender equality, tolerance, human rights, equal treatment, identity and social justice are mentioned under civic education (concept of gender equality is often referred to as a binary concept and does not include an explicitly issues of trans people) and diversity of family and cohabitation forms is included under family education in upper secondary school level.
There is currently no mandatory teacher training on LGBTQI awareness. Universities decide what to include to teacher training curricula. All teacher training curricula include some psychology and communication subjects. In Tartu University, LGBT topics are included in one subject, Diversity in Education and this subject is compulsory for teachers who study “Teaching Humanities and Social Subjects in Basic School” and voluntary for teachers who study “Teaching Natural and Exact Sciences at Lower Secondary School”.
As a result, not all teachers feel confident with dealing with LGBTQI topics. A report on the social situation concerning homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the country, highlights examples of teachers avoiding discussing LGBTQI issues with their students, because they were afraid of the consequences (i.e. reactions from parents, etc.).
In 2013 and 2014 the LGBT Association piloted a project of LGBT human rights and anti-bullying training. The Human Rights Centre (HRC) in partnership with the Equality Commissioner has carried out ad hoctrainings for teachers on equal treatment and legal remedies for discrimination victims. HRC has also carried out a project on LGBTQI learners and school bullying.
The General Requirements onMedical Procedures for the Change of Gender Act (1999) stipulates that in order to change gender a person must apply to the Ministry of Social Affairs. The applicant must present the following evidence: (i) a certification of transsexual identity covering a period of at least two years prior to the application; (ii) a psychiatrist’s opinion that excludes the possibility that the wish to undergo gender/sex change is caused by psychiatric disorder; and (iii) compatibility of chromo-somatic gender/sex certified by genetic research.
A medical expert committee appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs will then make a decision. There is no age restriction to enter this procedure. No surgical operation is required. If the medical expert committee reaches a favourable decision it will then be followed by a decree by the Ministry of Social Affairs, which authorises medical acts to change a person’s gender/sex. Once the authorisation of the Ministry of Social Affairs has been obtained, the change of gender and name will be carried out.
Name change is performed by the civil registrar office. This possibility is provided by Section 15 of the Estonian Names Act (2005): “If the gender of a person is changed, on the basis of a written application of the person, the parent(s) of the minor or of the guardian of the minor ward, a new given name shall be assigned to the person and a foreign-language surname of the person may be changed if the gender feature is reflected in the surname pursuant to the national tradition of the person”.
The government provides no specific support systems for LGBTQI learners or their families. Support for victims of school bullying should be offered by school staff. The victim may also turn to a national child support hotline or the police.
In 2011, the Estonian LGBT Association opened an LGBT information and activity centre called OMA Centre (’broaden your world’), which connects LGBT people, questions, ideas, concerns and wishes. The homepage of OMA Centre provides advice for LGBT people, and their parents, educational materials for teachers, counselling opportunities, information materials, and a library database.
The Chancellor of Justice has a department on children´s and youth´s rights where any child or adult may turn for help. There are a number of guidelines on explaining school bullying and how to stop it. Most of these do not expressly mention bullying of LGBTQI learners.
In 2007, a guideline on how to discuss and teach about gender identity, gender roles and sexual orientation for people working with minors was published.
The government supports civil society organisations, providing funding for specific activities (such as teacher training).
– Estonia has signed the Call for Action by Ministers – Inclusive and equitable education for all learners in an environment free from discrimination and violence.
– Estonia is member of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network.
The Ministry of Education and Research received numerous angry and hostile letters in November 2015 for organising a conference on LGBT and education. In Estonia, the association called Foundation for the Protection of Family and Tradition is the key organiser of the movement opposing LGBTQI rights and legislative improvements.