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Human Rights Watch conducted the research for this report between September 2016 and February 2017 in 10 cities on the major islands of Luzon and the Visayas in the Philippines. To identify interviewees, we conducted outreach through LGBT student groups, particularly at the university level. Human Rights Watch interviewed members of those groups as well as students who were known to those groups, whether or not they had experienced discrimination in school.

We sought interviews with students of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, but gay boys and transgender girls were disproportionately represented among the students identified by LGBT groups and the students who attended the group discussions.

The students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) too often find that their schooling experience is marred by bullying, discrimination, lack of access to LGBT-related information, and in some cases, physical or sexual assault. These abuses can cause deep and lasting harm and curtail students’ right to education, protected under Philippine and international law. In recent years, lawmakers and school administrators in the Philippines have recognized that bullying of LGBT youth is a serious problem, and designed interventions to address it. “LGBT Filipinos often confront social pressures to hide, suppress or even attempt to change their identities and expressions as conditions for their social acceptance and enjoyment of rights.

The anti-discrimination ordinances that have passed in the absence of federal legislation remain largely symbolic, as Quezon City is the only local government unit to follow the passage of its ordinance with implementing rules and regulations that are required to make such an ordinance enforceable. Even if fully enforced, these municipal and provincial ordinances would collectively cover only 15 percent of the population of the Philippines.

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