Promote Acceptance, Not Stigma and Discrimination

Earlier this week, it was reported that a teenager named Jessa Lojo committed suicide at a mall in Mandaluyong City. The investigators say that the cause may have revolved around the disapproval of the teenager’s family towards her sexuality. GALANG extends our deepest sympathies to Jessa’s family, friends, and loved ones. This heartbreaking incident mirrors our own fears for our partner communities whose sexualities are at the core of their daily struggles against all forms of discrimination.

During the Metro Manila Pride this year, GALANG Executive Director Anne Lim emphasized the importance of well-being among lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men (LBTs), and their respective family’s acceptance of their sexuality. This was an evidence-based recommendation from the results of GALANG’s Well-Being Index (WBI) Project, which looks at how LBT participants from seven (7) barangays in Quezon City evaluate their well-beings. It was alarming to note that 15 out of 82 LBTs (18%) admitted that they have attempted to commit suicide. While there are layers to this result which GALANG intends to further discuss, this glaring reality urgently needs attention from LGBT rights advocates, and various development players to channel advocacies and programs towards this direction.

There have been many enabling policies that mandated educational institutions, teachers, trainers, educators, and even parents and guardians to provide age-appropriate sexuality education, well-being, and diversity, among others. However, without an Anti-Discrimination legislation passed, the roadmap to inclusive development will remain discriminatory. Jessa’s death resonates a call for help and support for everyone who needs to understand their sexuality without fear of stigma and discriminating labels. Let us all promote a culture that respects diversity. Support families and friends by talking about sexuality and creating opportunities for understanding.

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