Gay and Pregnant Students Face Discrimination

I got this article from Prof. Libay Cantor of UP Diliman ( from her Multiply site) who is an advocate of LGBT issues. As for me, I will be reposting this so as to enlighten people of the reality of homophobia and sexism in the education system: the institution that “molds” young minds into what they are today. Try to analyze it and think about where you had your education when you were younger.

As far as my experiences from the school I went to, I didn’t really feel that kind of homophobia. I believe that most of my teachers in High School new that I was gay however they can’t really prosecute me because I am not a “black sheep” as they say. I get passing grades, participate in extra-curricular activities etc… With regard to pregnant students, I do hear some rumors about it that when there is a pregnant student, the admin would sort of give her a “maternity leave” then she can go back to school once she bears her child. I think they have a program for it, I just don’t know what it’s called.

When I was in UP Diliman, that’s the time when I became openly gay even with my professors then. I don’t think that my being a lesbian hindered me in any way in UP. It was when I became a member of UP Babaylan when I learned about the hate campaigns being propagated by other groups and individuals around the campus ( especially during elections).

It is really time to pass the anti-discrimination law. As we could see homophobia and sexism still exists ( though it’s unwritten).

Gay, Pregnant and Marked for Harassment
By Jonas Bagas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:44:00 06/08/2008

MANILA, Philippines – Remember the “flower platoon”?

Back when the Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC) was still mandatory for male college students, it symbolized discrimination against gay students. Real men marched in real platoons; gay students were with their pansy fellows in the flower platoon. Their only duty was to cheer for their manly counterparts or run errands for them.

Well, the “flower platoon” disappeared with the abolition of compulsory ROTC in 2001, but the underlying biases that created it still persist. They come in the form of unwritten rules or the ubiquitous “morality clause” in the student manual. They are meant to crack the whip on what some sectors still describe as “moral deviants”—lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT), as well as unmarried pregnant students.

Some schools run by religious congregations or organizations, like St. Joseph’s College in Quezon City, ask unwed pregnant students to drop out or take a leave of absence until after they deliver their babies.

An admissions officer at the Saint Pedro Poveda College in Quezon City says the issue is simply about being consistent with the Catholic faith. “Pregnancy outside of marriage sends the wrong message about premarital sex,” she explains.

But for women’s rights activists, policies against pregnant students are discriminatory. Dr. Guy Estrada-Claudio of the UP Center for Women Studies believes that these policies are very judgmental on women’s sexuality. “It punishes women in the end. To be pregnant, women have to be in a heterosexual marriage. They are not given a choice,” she says.

She cautions, too, about the danger of schools being complicit in sexual abuse, especially if the context of the pregnancy is unknown. “Schools could be punishing students who are in fact victims of rape or incest,” she adds.

Not all Catholic schools discriminate against unmarried pregnant students though. The College of the Holy Spirit in Manila and Miriam College in Quezon City, for instance, have taken a progressive stance on the issue.

In De La Salle University, however, while unmarried pregnant students are not punished, the prohibition could apply to unmarried pregnant female faculty members, if the rather vague clause “public scandal” in the faculty manual were applied.

Notes DLSU professor Natty Manauat: “The rule is contained in a broad and vague morality clause in the faculty manual, but I don’t think it has ever been applied. But that’s exactly the problem—it is there and it can be arbitrarily imposed.”

The same vague policies on morality hound lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, who are brought under control through their attire and physical appearance. In the Philippine Normal University in Manila, effeminate gay students are barred from sporting long hair, using make-up, or wearing earrings while inside the university. Curiously though, masculine and ostensibly heterosexual students are allowed to wear long hair and earrings, and even apply foundation on their face.

In San Beda College in Manila, masculinity tests used to be imposed on presumably gay students. Students can’t enrol if they fail the arbitrary test administered by a panel composed of school officials and faculty members who rate a student according to their perception of masculinity.

Even in the more liberal enclave of the University of the Philippines, discrimination still exists. Perci Cendaña, the first openly gay chair of the UP University Student Council, recounts that during the campaign period, homophobes resorted to nasty tactics against him. “There were even graffiti in some men’s restrooms during the campaign period with phrases like ‘Perci Kadiri’ and ‘Bading ’wag iboto.’ It was a great disappointment because this was UP,” he says.

How then does one address discrimination and stigma against LGBT students and unmarried pregnant students? The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, a broad network of student councils and governments, views discrimination as a sign of a poor democracy. “Education knows no sex, religion, physical status or gender,” says SCAP Sec. Gen. Bianca Lapus.

SCAP has been pushing for the passage of the Students Rights and Welfare Bill (HB2584) to ensure equality inside schools and campuses. Also pending in Congress is the Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB956), authored by Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel in partnership with the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network (LAGABLAB), which would penalize discrimination against LGBTs in schools, workplaces, and other areas.

Unless these bills are enacted, kicking stigma out of our schools remains a test we all have to face and pass.


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