Art By Lia Dimalanta
Art By Lia Dimalanta.

Challenging prejudices against the LGBTQIA+ community this IDAHOBIT

The fight for queer rights extends beyond Benilde to include queer people in Gaza. It entails preserving free expression, safeguarding journalists, and ensuring accessible environments for those with impairments. Queer people live different lives and we must recognize that.” - ID120 Wallace "Wals" Beltran

By Elaisa Almosara | Friday, 7 June 2024

Every year, the world comes together to celebrate the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on May 17. This year’s theme is “No one left behind: Equality, freedom and justice for all,” prompting a closer look at some of the areas in which inequality is at its most stark.


Despite notable progress in certain regions, LGBTQIA+ individuals globally still encounter significant legal challenges. In numerous countries, laws criminalize same-sex relationships and gender nonconformity, subjecting individuals to harsh penalties, including imprisonment and, in some extreme cases, the death penalty. In places where legal protections exist, they are often inadequately enforced, leaving many LGBTQIA+ people exposed to discrimination and violence.


The Benildean sat down with Benildeans who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community to share their thoughts on this important day.


‘Not gay enough’

Prejudices against the LGBTQIA+ community are often passed down from one generation to the next, creating an enduring cycle of baseless hate. 


Adrian Hortizuela, an ID123 Animation student, expressed his thoughts on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. "The ideology passed on from generation to generation creates an endless cycle of baseless biases which develops blind hate." This ideological inheritance means that biases become ingrained in societal norms and values, making them difficult to challenge and change.


Meanwhile, Wals Beltran, a graduating ID120 Multimedia Arts student, addressed, "I think a lot of people always think “Oh, LGBT? Oh, very sexual. Bad for the kids.” I think iniisip nila LGBTQIA+ people are “papansin” or “attention-seeking.” Bumabalik na naman ‘yung hypersexuality. They think we are loud and too flamboyant.”


While dealing with misconceptions and stereotypes, “Ky,” a member of Benilde Hive, the first accredited LGBTQIA+ student organization in De La Salle Philippines, shared her frustrations on the topic. "For bisexual people, there is a common occurrence in which, for example, when one enters a straight relationship, people have a more negative reaction towards that.”


“In a sense, some would perceive that we are “not gay enough” or “that it means we are straight” and completely invalidates bisexuality as a whole,” she continued. 


These prejudices not only manifest in interpersonal interactions but also permeate institutional structures and societal norms, further marginalizing LGBTQIA+ individuals and perpetuating systems of discrimination and inequality.


Hortizuela emphasized the need for dialogue and open discussion to combat prejudice and discrimination. "The amount of prejudice and discrimination is astounding. The country still has a long way to go in treating and perceiving the LGBTQIA+ community," he noted.


On a lighter note, organizing events that bring together willing participants from both communities can provide opportunities for open conversations and mutual understanding.


Ky highlighted, "Educate and be educated. Inform others kindly and engage in conversations to prevent enforcing harmful stereotypes." By promoting education about different sexual orientations, gender identities, and lived experiences, individuals can gain a deeper understanding and empathy for the LGBTQIA+ community.


Meanwhile, Beltran and Xyrene ‘Xai’ Garcia, an ID123 Multimedia Arts student, stressed the significance of supportive environments and safe spaces.  "As individuals, we should keep our circles safe and educated about queerness and being allies. Those with influence must amplify voices and let people understand and empathize," Beltran mentioned.


Creating safe spaces where LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies feel empowered to speak out against discrimination can also help challenge harmful stereotypes and promote social change.


Incorporating these perspectives into efforts to challenge stereotypes and biases can lead to greater awareness, education, and empathy within society. By promoting dialogue, education, open-mindedness, and support, communities can work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.


‘Where rainbows lie’

Benilde has made notable efforts towards inclusion for the LGBTQIA+ community, but much is still to be done. From inclusive policies to supportive student organizations, Benilde has created spaces where individuals can express their true selves without fear of discrimination or prejudice.


Beltran acknowledges this, highlighting that "Benilde is inclusive, but there's room for improvement. While there's significant action and a large queer group, some professors still hold conservative views." 


Despite this, Ky praises Benilde for promoting a safe space that allows students to express themselves freely, stating, "Benilde promotes a safe space through various seminars, events, and programs that allow students to express themselves." 


Garcia also mentioned how "Benilde encourages students to embrace their unique identities, which is reflected in their dress code policy." Meanwhile, Hortizuela values Benilde’s commitment to fostering inclusion, noting that "Benilde fosters a student's way of life by truly highlighting inclusivity."


One of the hallmarks of Benilde's approach to LGBTQIA+ inclusion is its emphasis on education and awareness. The Center for Inclusive Education (CIE) plays a crucial role in promoting understanding and acceptance of diverse identities through workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns. These initiatives not only educate the campus community but also challenge stereotypes and promote empathy and compassion.


Mr. Clifford Chua, an Academic Consultant at CIE, offers insights into how IDAHOBIT aligns with Benilde’s vision and mission of inclusion. Mr. Chua believes that informing the community about these acts and protocols is crucial, stating, "I think it’s a good start. We just need more informing of the community about these acts or protocols. Continuous efforts are needed to bring about change and solve the issues."


"They need to come up with principles or guidelines to make the community a safe space for everyone, and I think they are already starting that by establishing safe spaces. To ensure that this place is safe for everyone, we need to develop guidelines or protocols specifically tailored to ensure the safety of the LGBTQIA+ community," he added. 


Through continued education, raising awareness, and the implementation of targeted initiatives, Benilde is actively working towards realizing its vision of a more inclusive and equitable community for everyone.


As Beltran aptly puts it, "The fight for queer rights isn’t a fight only in Benilde. It also calls for a fight for queer people in Gaza. The fight for queer rights involves defending freedom of expression, protecting journalists, and creating inclusive spaces for people with disabilities. Queer people live different lives, and we must recognize that.” 


International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia serves as a call to action, urging us to mobilize our collective efforts in dismantling systemic barriers and fostering environments where every individual, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can thrive without fear of discrimination or persecution.