|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 General Act for Equal Treatment (1994, amended 2015) is applicable within educational settings and states that no person can be discriminated on grounds of sexual orientation (homosexuality is explicitly mentioned). The act is the elaboration of the first article of the Dutch Constitution and has general rules on how citizens should be protected against discrimination. It also includes provisions about discrimination on grounds of gender, but there is no specific mention to gender identity and expression, or variations of sex characteristics.
The Safety at School Act (2015) is an action plan issued by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science that explicitly mentions sexual diversity (LGBT). Its aim is to encourage schools to tackle bullying and to provide a safe environment for all learners and staff members. The action plan states that schools are required to implement a security plan, which should include (among other measures) a contact point to report bullying, the monitoring of the well-being and sense of safety of all learners, and the creation of a database with the interventions in this regard.
In 2012, the parliament decided that respectful education about sexual diversity should be mandatory in all schools (primary education and the first years of secondary education) by adding this topic to the Core Goals of Education. These core goals provide guidelines and minimum requirements for education and the level of knowledge and skills, by mentioning what students should know at the end of their school time. According to this guideline, schools must give information about sexual diversity (sexual and gender diversity are specifically mentioned, but variations of sex characteristics are not).
In 2016, the Inspectorate of Education monitored how sexual diversity was being taught. The research highlights considerable difficulties involved in sexual diversity education, and the way sexual diversity is addressed varies from school to school. According to the study, sexual diversity education is insufficiently secured, the opportunities to address or educate about this matter remain unused, and it is unclear to what extent schools cover the topic effectively. The report concludes that what students learn about sexual diversity can vary greatly because schools are given considerable discretion, meaning this work can be arbitrary. Moreover, the study reports that one in five schools are not educating their students on this matter.
In April 2017, the Parliament ruled that there will be sanctions for schools that do not comply sexual diversity education and it also stated that this learning will be obliged on vocational secondary education.
In the Dutch educational system, sector organisations for teacher training set their own standards and develop curricula, but they are obliged to commit to a national ‘knowledge base’ when developing their own programs. The Dutch Ministry has supported a project for the School and Safety Foundation together with the sector organisations for teacher training on social safety, including bullying, sexual and gender diversity. As a result of this project, the ‘knowledge base’ has been revised in 2018 to include sexual diversity. As of next school year, sexual diversity will, therefore, be included in various parts of the teacher training programs: citizenship, pedagogical function of the school and (sexual) development. While teacher training on LGBTQI awareness is not mandatory, all teacher training schools have the obligation to use this inclusive ‘knowledge-base’ to develop their programs.
Civil society organisations also provide specific lessons on this issue (for instance, COC Netherlands and EduDivers), but still see mandatory teacher training on LGBTQI issues as a priority.
On 1 July 2014, a law entered into force simplifying the process by which people can change their gender on their birth certificate and other official documents. The law revises the Civil Code of the Netherlands. The amendment reinforces the right to self-determination and the right to physical integrity. A court order is no longer a necessity and the age limit has been lowered to the age of 16 years. However, children still need a statement from an expert that affirms the person’s permanent decision to belong to another gender. During the evaluation of the law, attention will be paid to the experiences of children and their parents in relation to this age limit. The Ministry of Health has committed to pay particular attention to the age limit in its planned evaluation of the transgender law in 2019.
Data is being collected by different institutions. There is a Yearly safety monitor (www.veiligheidsmonitor.nl) that collects data in this regard. According to the Safety at Schools Act (2015), schools also need to collect the information. Furthermore, the Netherlands Institute for Social Research has yearly themed researches on attitudes towards sexual diversity and well-being of LGBT people. In this research, young people in education are also being monitored.
There is an Inspectorate of Education that monitors schools on different subjects. In 2009 and 2016 this body assessed specifically the situation of LGBTI students in schools and the inclusion of sexual diversity on the school curricula.
The Safety at Schools Action Plan states that schools should provide support for students who have experienced bullying or harassment. Some civil society organisations (COC Netherlands, Movisie, Jong&Out) are supported by the government to develop networks of peer support, to provide information for learners, and to publish information in this regard.
The Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSA) approach is a key element of the Dutch LGBT policy. GSAs strive together to improve the social acceptance of sexual and gender diversity in order to ensure that LGBT people feel safe at school. Through their cooperation, GSAs manage to mainstream LGBT issues and reach people and organisations which would not be reached without an alliance. The Dutch LGBT policy has a GSA on Education, which promotes partnership between LGBT and mainstream organisations.
The School & Safety Foundation is a Dutch centre of expertise for a ‘safe social learning environment’. It acts as a partner with the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the three education councils for primary, secondary, and vocational education. They have developed a website (Gay & Schools) which contains specific and detailed information and guidelines to improve LGBTQI inclusion on education. The website encompasses lesson plans, help kits for students, and other learning materials.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science took a whole range of concrete measures to create an LGBT-friendly environment in schools by funding various organisations and projects. Among other measures, the government provides crucial support to civil society organisations (such as COC Netherlands, Edu Divers, Theater AanZ, LCC Projecten or School & Veiligheid).
The Dutch government is also committed to LGBTQI rights worldwide, providing financial support to European LGBTQI NGOs, such as ILGA Europe, Transgender Europe and IGLYO, and via Dutch embassies for local LGBTI organisations in countries where LGBTI people are at risk. It also strengthens networks such as the European Focal Points Network and European Rainbow Cities, and actively contributes to international organisations such as UNESCO, the OECD and UNICEF.
– The Netherlands has signed the Call for Action by Ministers – Inclusive and equitable education for all learners in an environment free from discrimination and violence.
– The Netherlands is member of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Point Network since June 2015. This network is currently chaired by the Dutch government.
Gender & Sexuality Alliances in schools [www.gsanetwerk.nl]
COC Netherlands encourages students (and teachers) in schools to form GSAs and supports them. COC campaigns, brings GSAs together to share and learn, provides materials, organises nationwide joint campaigns, and gives direct support to students of GSAs in 80 % of Dutch secondary schools.
Covers: SO, GIE, SC
Storytelling in Dutch schools [www.voorlichtingindeklas.nl]
Twenty local COC branches go into schools to give informative classes about sexual and gender diversity. Classes are about the personal experiences of the storytellers.
Covers: SO, GIE
Sexual Diversity in vocational education
Theater AanZ, EduDivers and COC Netherlands support large schools for vocational education with programs that help these schools to make schools safer place for everyone. The program contains a well-received interactive theatre play by Theater AanZ, support for school management by Edu Divers and student support by COC Netherlands.
Covers: SO, GIE