Three out of five LGBT people in Cambodia say they have been bullied at school, with many being tormented by teachers and dropping out as a result, rights advocates have found.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights surveyed 245 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, aged 15 to 72, around the country and found that 63 percent had been bullied as students.
Of those who were bullied, 42 percent suffered often or on a daily basis, while 17 percent said their teachers were the perpetrators, the survey found.
“I raised the issue with my own teacher regarding his inappropriate speech,” a transgender man studying for a bachelor’s degree in the capital Phnom Penh was quoted as saying in the report.
“My teacher said, ‘You are totally different than others in the class. You are not a man, please act and present yourself as a real girl.'”
Another transgender man, a 19-year-old student in Kampong Chhnang province northwest of Phnom Penh, told researchers he was a good student, but was frequently punished by his teacher.
“My teacher often scolds or blames me. I am not comfortable in school as a transgender man. I am not discriminated much by my friends, but my teacher bullies me,” he said.
Although same-sex activities are not illegal in Cambodia and there is little overt persecution of LGBT people, they are not protected by laws or policies, experts say.
Those surveyed across 11 Cambodia’s 25 provinces by the non-governmental Cambodian Center for Human Rights reported verbal bullying, social exclusion, violence and sexual harassment.
Some respondents ended up avoiding or dropping out of school. In second phase of the survey, of those who had not completed high school, 13 percent said they dropped out because of the bullying.
The authors noted the findings were limited by the fact that the people surveyed were openly LGBT, and the research did not reach LGBT people who were not known to community leaders. (Reporting by Alisa Tang, editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)