|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|
Iceland Compulsory School Act (2008) states that learning and teaching objectives, and how compulsory schools operate, must be as such to prevent discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, place of residence, social background, religion, health, disability, or general situation. Neither gender identity and expression nor variations in sex characteristics are mentioned.
In 2011, a regulation was made for the Compulsory School level on responsibilities and obligations of the school community concerning school atmosphere, school culture and a framework for work processes to prevent physical, mental, and/or social violence, including bullying in school. In early 2016, a similar regulation was made for the Upper Secondary School level. According to this regulatory framework, a positive school atmosphere should characterise all schoolwork and schools should form a holistic policy on good school climate by placing children’s interest as priority. School leaders shall strive to contribute to positive communication, mutual trust, solidarity and mutual responsibility of staff, students and parents.
There is, however, no national bullying strategy other than stating that each school should have their own plan and work towards a positive atmosphere. It does not specifically mention any minority groups.
The national curriculum in Iceland is general and not specific. It is up to each school to develop their own programmes. The national curriculum only sets forth general guidelines. However, six pillars of education are identified, which are supposed to be embedded within all teaching. One of the pillars is equality: equality includes sex and sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is therefore supposed to be included throughout teaching in elementary and secondary schools. There are no further guidelines, however, on how to include it, nor is there any follow-up to ensure this is happening. There is also a severe lack of appropriate teaching materials in the local language.
There is a distinct lack of teaching and learning materials that include any kind of LGBTQI content in the local language. This has not been a priority for the government and educational bodies. One of the teacher training universities now includes an elective course on queer pedagogy. It is a new subject and not mandatory. LGBTQI issues may be mentioned by other teachers but it is not explicitly a part of the curriculum.
Samtökin ’78 offers training for teachers in two municipalities: Reykjavík and Hafnarfjörður. One-hour sessions for teachers in Reykjavík are available sporadically, but there is a six-hour training programme for teachers in Hafnarfjörður.
The Act on the legal status of transgender persons (2012) states that applicants who are of legal age (over 18), have been diagnosed as transgender, and have received treatment from the National University Hospital Gender Identity Disorder Team, can apply to the Expert Panel on Gender Identity Disorder for recognition that they belong to the other gender. A report from the hospital’s team stating that the applicant has been under its care for at least 18 months and that they have been living in the other gender for at least one year is required.
An elementary school in Reykjanesbær, however, took steps to become more gender neutral in January 2016. Gendered signs were taken down from bathrooms and stipulations for specific swim attire were removed (now learners can choose between swimming costumes or swimming trunks). The school’s principal said that “…since there are currently children attending the school who are gender-fluid or trans, it’s not up to us, the school, to force them or anybody else into a pre-designed form”.
The government does not provide data on homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and interphobic bullying. However, the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA), supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, and municipalities, has for more than 20 years conducted the national youth survey in Iceland among 10-20 year-olds, consisting of extensive data collection and information dissemination concerning family and adolescent welfare. A set of core questions covers a wide array of demographic and social variables, including family structure, parental and peer support, structured and unstructured activities and pastimes, substance use, academic achievement, and psychosocial adjustment. The research has been extensively used by policy makers and at local level to co-ordinate actions with various stakeholders to improve the health and well-being of children and youth. The three key aims of ICSRA are: (a) to advance and distribute knowledge on the social determinants of health, well-being and behaviour of young people; (b) to enhance the quality of life of young people by improving health and well-being through the process of education and social change; and (c) to create a venue for collaboration of scholars, specifically, for the education and training of young scholars.
In regard to the education inspectorate, there is very little if any follow-up on whether any of the curriculum guidelines are achieved, except in the main subject areas like maths and reading. The result is that each school has a great deal of independence in how they conduct their affairs. Some schools have robust and inclusive policies and programmes, while others have nothing related to LGBTQI topics.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture has set up a professional council as an advisory body on bullying. The body has for the last four years dealt with various difficult cases of bullying in schools at the Compulsory School Level. A similar body is now being set up for the Upper Secondary School level based on a new regulation. No specific identities or marginalising factors are specifically covered.
Samtökin ’78 operates a drop-in youth centre where students can come and ask for help with issues they are experiencing.
With support from the Ministry of Welfare, Samtökin ’78 offers information and guidelines for LGBTQI learners.
The Ministry of Welfare has supported Samtökin ’78 financially to carry out its work. In addition, Samtökin have a contract with the Municipality of Reykjavík which includes financial support in exchange for extensive LGBTQIA education in schools. There is also a new contract with the municipality of Hafnarfjörður which includes financial support in exchange for extensive teacher training on the topic of LGBTQIA students and education as well as peer education for students. However, these are only two municipalities out of 75, but they are two of the largest ones.
– Iceland has signed the Call for Action by Ministers – Inclusive and equitable education for all learners in an environment free from discrimination and violence.
– Iceland is a member of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network.
There was a concentrated, but very vocal, opposition to the inclusion of LGBTQI content in the curriculum in Hafnarfjörður compulsory schools. It resulted with charges of hate speech against ten individuals. These charges are still being investigated. The motion was accepted nonetheless, and the program is currently taking place.
LGBTQIA education in Hafnarfjörður, by Samtökin ’78
All teachers and school staff in Hafnarfjörður get six hours of training on SO, GI/E and SC. The intention is that they will be able to include these perspectives in their everyday teaching.
Covers: SO, GIE and SC
Peer education, by Samtökin ’78
Young trained volunteers go to schools and community centres with a 60-80 minute workshop on SO, GI/E, SC, stereotypes and prejudice to 13-16 year old students.
Covers: SO, GIE and SC