In the course of next week, Correos de Cuba will put on sale in all its units and newsstands, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that was approved in the Second Ordinary Session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, at the price of one peso in national currency. Correos […]
By: Martha Sánchez Martínez
May 17, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Chilean transsexual actress Daniela Vega has a lot of international awards at home, but she feels she lacks something like a human being and it is not a laurel, but a right.
The star of A Fantastic Woman, winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Film, would like to be able to stamp her name on her grave in her native country.
If I could, I would not take a jar, or my rings, or my glasses, when I die. I would take my name with me, because my name is what I am, it is what I did and what I wanted to do at the moment when I had to be alive, said the 28-year-old girl who at the age of 14 began her gender transition.
For Daniela, it is a question of dignity, which could be resolved by will.
Why not? Why not? Where is the dignity of the people then? Where is the creation of rights for human dignity? These and other questions make her one of the most valuable activists in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community today.
After making history as the first transgender woman to take the role of presenter at an Academy Awards ceremony, Time Magazine chose her in 2018 as one of the 100 most influential personalities in the world.
The performance of Marina Vidal, a trans woman, in Sebastian Lelio’s feature film, gave her a Platinum Award, a Caleuche, and Best Actress awards at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Havana International New Latin American Film Festival.
She also presented the Ibero-American Phoenix Film Award and the Best Actress Jury Award at the Lima Film Festival in Peru to the artist and lyrical singer.
Art, in general, helps to blur and soften many barriers, because art is a space for resistance, reflection and communion, she said during a colloquium held at the National Sex Education Center (Cenesex) in Cuba.
She travelled to this Caribbean island to participate once again in the actions of the Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, which takes place every May under the direction of the sexologist Mariela Castro.
According to Vega, in many countries of the Latin American continent, transgender people are destined for smaller tasks, not for political, strategic or community participation.
And I feel like why? is answered with the word fear, because some people are afraid to empower certain people, she said.
The Oscar won by A Fantastic Woman in the United States of course gave her satisfaction, and above all allowed her to raise her voice, but this girl can not stop thinking about others, ishe is not a unique case on the planet, she prefers to defend the opportunity to listen to everyone.
Why are some voices legitimate and others not? This has to do with the legitimacy we give to life, it should not be necessary to win an Oscar to be listened to, it is enough that there is only a will to listen, he said.
When will the States of the world understand that identity is an inalienable right?
In addition, she wondered where the power of States to support the childhood of transgender people lay, for we were not talking about someone who became a horse, a dog or a cat, but a human being, and she claimed it from her own experience, because she was a victim of discrimination in childhood.
Speaking of human beings, it would be nice to understand that human rights are not charged like a credit card, nor as a shopping mall, nor with a luxury car, human rights are taken to the grave, she said.
Who says that there are wars that are not legitimate, that there are unconquerable loves, that there are ungovernable bodies, asked this voracious reader of poetry who came to the world of acting in search of an instrument of self-understanding.
According to Daniela, giving dignity to people should be the political will of all States and governments, as they have supported the right to vote, among others, because the dignity of the human being is, together with diversity, its greatest wealth.
A Fantastic Woman launched her to stardom but it was not her first film work, as her film debut came in 2014 with The Visit, a film directed by Mauricio López Fernández, which allowed her to travel to various festivals around the world and gave her her first international awards as an actress.
At the end of this year, Vega will appear in a starring role in the film Un domingo de julio en Santiago, by Visnu and Gopal Ibarra, who invited her to perform as a femele lawyer.
She only answers with mystery a question from Prensa Latina about what she would be interested in doing in film:
“I like to surprise people, I prefer to surprise them,” she said.
These days, the artist is writing an autobiographical book, she is not ashamed of being a trans, but proud, and she suffers the obligation to travel with a masculine name on her passport, but she will not stop struggling to be recognized everywhere as who she is, and that is clear to her, simply Daniela Vega.
May 17, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In Pinar del Rio, Chilean transgender actress Daniela Vega, star of the film A Fantastic Woman (awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film), highlighted the Cuban government’s political will to build the dignity of life and bridges that unite.
The artist spoke with representatives of the press in Pinar del Río, the venue of the Cuban Conference against homophobia and transphobia, convened by the National Sex Education Centre (Cenesex) in an effort to promote respect for free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity.
Vega recalled that from the first time she visited Cuba, her colors and the spirit of Cenesex caught her by keeping them beautiful and the island’s flame high.
What motivates me to come is the greatness of this country, she confessed while calling for taking the stones that others will use to build walls that separate and use them to build bridges that unite.
The Chilean actress thanked Cuba and its people for the reception and called on heterosexuals, homosexuals and transsexuals to overcome fear and act convinced that colors can mix and be bright and radiate more light.
Let us fight so that the children of the future are not rejected as we were, she concluded.
(With information from Prensa Latina)
An Ode to the Lenin School
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
By Dario Alejandro Escobar
The nostalgic adult would like to go back over his memories and relive his times of glory and pleasure. The Lenin has on its students and teachers that magical effect that falls in love and compromises, perhaps ridiculous for the uninitiated in this youth brotherhood.
It doesn’t matter if they graduated, if they stayed a year or a month: the time argument is irrelevant. Because if you had the opportunity to live there, even if it was just a short period of time, you will be fascinated by the wonderful woman who deflowers you to become a different human being, almost always better.
The Vocational Institute of Exact Sciences Vladimir Ilich Lenin is forty-four years old today. It is easy to write and quicker to say, but it would be unfair to think of the thousands of students who have passed through their classrooms and hostels as mere data for a report.
The Lenin must be evoked in the new sensations of the first day as we walk, aisle after aisle, through its accomplice buildings. In the furtive and deep loves, those that shake our chest and make our face blush if we remember them. In the tears of many in the face of powerlessness for not understanding enough a subject that diminished – let’s be honest and admit it now – academic qualification and also personal pride. In the “infamous” guards on weekends; in the passes “removed” by the accumulation of reports; in the chaotic recreations, as close as possible to the meaning of “party”, even after the ones experienced in my special college years.
In those recreational spaces of the Lenin I learned to dance casino and to chant Silvio Rodríguez with any deflecting guitar. In the Lenin I smoked for the first time and in its nights I wrote my first attempts at literature.
The School has invariably shown some elitist inspiration. There’s no point in denying it. From the ways to get in, to the social and academic division of its groups, everything pointed towards excellence and exclusivity; but it has also had an avant-garde vocation. It wanted – and in my opinion it has succeeded in general – in training the most integral pre-university students. The one who knows the natural and exact sciences in above-average detail, and in turn has read a good number of the classics of literature or traditional and contemporary music. At least it was like that back in the day when I studied there
For being the avant-garde school that sheltered us, we venerated it. For developing the potential skills of your students, for making us grow from study, work and responsibility towards ourselves.
It is in the human and intellectual quality of its best students that the magic of the Lenin School resides. More than a decade after being abandoned by my fellow students, Vocations continues to graduate restless boys: boys who arrive at university with a desire to “eat the world”.
So much time later, and with a very important part of its graduates residing outside the country, parties are celebrated where people with antipodean differences in many aspects of life meet: ideological, sexual, and geographic, but united by the circular monogram very red with an atom in the center, worn in the sleeve of the shirt, or of the blouse, during the preuniversity.
I still find myself in the streets, in guaguas [buses], and more and more frequently on the Internet, people of my year, whom I greet with nothing else in common but to recognize us from that place. The school has remained engraved in the collective memory of its students as a great sect of friendship, a religion that few have renounced. A beautiful manifestation of memory grateful to the past.
These days I can’t get in to tour the school the way I want to. Bureaucratic reasons are holding me back. The Lenin is falling apart and there are those who justify laziness with incredible arguments. It hurts a lot but it doesn’t matter, because I have so much accumulated memory, so many friends scattered around, so many songs evocative of innocence, that no barrier can prevent me from feeling like the first time, a Lenin School student again and again when it comes to Graduation Day.
By Mónica Baró Sánchez*
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
No, you can’t exercise in peace on the Fifth Avenue promenade or in similar spaces without at least five men, if you’re lucky, bothering you, saying sloppy things and looking at you like a bloodhound with their tongues out. With the faces of morons.
If you stretch out because your leg and if you do sit-ups because your buttocks. They remember young boys leaving priest’s school after months of not seeing a woman.
Sometimes I feel like taking off a tennis shoe and hitting them on the head to see if I can kill them with some obsolete neurons until they start to behave like the men they should be. Or to go out one afternoon and start messing with them in the same way so that they feel how unbearable they are. Let’s see if they stop seeing and treating women as something to have sex with and discover that we are people, that we feel, that we think and, above all, that we have dignity.
I don’t want to be looked at like that anymore. That doesn’t raise my self-esteem. Being looked at as one thing humiliates me, assaults me. I don’t exercise for men, I don’t wear a short dress for men, I don’t paint my lips for men, I don’t dance and I don’t shake my butt for men, I don’t smile for men.
I do everything for myself and for myself. And I’m pretty hard to please. When I’m alone I keep doing all that. Because I like to like myself and when I stop liking myself I try to like myself again. Me to me. Not to anyone. I like that I like my body when I dance, my lips when I paint them, my hair when I let go, my thighs and my belly when I dress myself short and even my ligaments when I stretch.
Women deserve to be treated like women, not like orifices. No matter what we do or how we dress. I’m sure there’s not a single man who finishes his workout and needs to publish something like this. Peace for me today is that if a man is going to look at me he must look me in the eye. And be quiet. Because almost always, I say to the defenders of “compliments”, not to say that always, when a man says something to you on the street is not because he wants to get to know you and know your human values, but because he wants to humiliate you. So, peace.
Originally posted on myFacebook wall.
Finalist of the Gabriel García Márquez Prize for Journalism in the Text category in 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in late July 2008 apologizing to African Americans for the years of slavery they have suffered.
This was the recognition by the U.S. House of Representatives of the injustice and inhumanity of the slave system and “Jim Crow”, as the period of intense racial discrimination between 1865, when slavery was officially abolished and the 1960s, was known in there.
At that time, the establishment was forced to take action against the nefarious racial discrimination system but, in some states more and in others less, it kept black citizens legally segregated from white people and limited their civil rights, even without the right to vote. This legal segregation was more inhumane and violent in the southern states than in the northern United States.
The name “Jim Crow” applied to that shameful period in American history was that of a comedian and singer named Rice, who composed and performed the song “Jump, Jim Crow” in 1828, about a black servant who danced while brushing his master’s horse. It is not clear why the term “Jim Crow” began to be used to refer to any entity that practiced racial segregation: “Jim Crow laws”, “Jim Crow schools”, “Jim Crow trams”. There were workplaces, universities, taxis, trains, buses, boats, canteens, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, health services, water fountains, prisons, nursing homes, barbershops, public parks, sports fields, circuses, fairs, theatres, cinemas, concert or party halls, libraries, beaches, swimming pools, waiting rooms, telephone booths, workshops, elevators, brothels, lines or queues, entrances and exits of buildings. Everything could be assimilated into to this U.S. form of apartheid.
Segregation applied to marriage, some professions, neighborhoods, churches and cemeteries. In some cities, Jim Crow martial law was imposed and blacks could not go out on the street after a certain hour at night. In the Jim Crow courts, whites swore with one hand on a Bible and blacks swore on a different copy of the same book..
Black people were excluded from the unions. They were not admitted to Jim Crow sororities, clubs and societies. Board games and sports involving physical contact between blacks and whites, including combat games such as boxing, were prohibited unless the opponent was a foreigner.
Add to this ignominious situation the violence with which the Ku Klux Klan, members of the John Birch Society, the White Citizens’ Councils and other elements of the American extreme right were acting. A real white terrorist system!
In the face of such outrages, the struggle of black Americans for their civil rights became increasingly intense. It generated such great leaders as Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as hundreds of martyrs, remembered or forgotten, from Black Power organizations and others who, in the 1960s, gave birth to a situation that appeared to be a precursor to a revolution.
Fear of reprisals by the empire and its control of the media limited the international denunciation of these abuses and global solidarity. The triumph of the revolution in Cuba, the rise of anti-imperialism and the ideas of social justice in Latin America encouraged the just domestic struggle of Black people. This coincided with the need for the recruitment of black soldiers for the asymmetrical imperialist war against Vietnam and all this forced the establishment to bury the Jim Crow system.
For the sake of national security, the empire made major reformist “concessions” in race relations in a country where the law was white, and there were white policemen, white judges, white mayors, and white actors and actresses on film and TV screens. Blacks were nearly always represented in submissive and complacent attitudes.
Prior to the request for an apology from the House of Representatives, the other branch of Congress, the Senate, passed another resolution in April 2008 apologizing for “the many cases of violence, abuse and neglect” suffered by Native Americans. The Senate also apologized in 1993 for the “illegal overthrow” of the Kingdom of Hawaii a hundred years earlier.
Yet humanity is still waiting for the U.S. to apologize and compensate so many nations on every continent whose democratic existence the U.S. has assaulted since it became an imperialist power in the early 20th century. And to do so with the promise never again to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations, as well as to respect the human rights of their own citizens of other ethnicities and ways of thinking.
May 17, 2018.
April 3, 2018
By Rolando Pérez Betancourt
Graduated in Journalism from the University of Havana in 1973. Graduate in French from the Institutes of Foreign Trade and Foreign Affairs. José Antonio Fernández de Castro National Prize for Cultural Journalism (1999), José Martí National Prize for Journalism for the work of life (2007). Journalist at the Granma Newspaper. Attends the weekly program “The Seventh Gate”. He is one of the sharpest film critics in Cuba.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Increasingly, the globalization of gossip gains ground from the social and cultural magnitude.
“-Dig this!, Mrs. X divorced Mr. X after finishing her latest movie.”
“Yes, but he was already sleeping with somebody else.”
“With a He, or with a She?”
This is just an example of banal and depoliticized gossip in its comprehensive role of obliterating transcendental reasoning.
Back in the 50s, as a child, I learned about the subject — without understanding it then—by reading the glossy magazines collected by a cousin who, despite spending a fortune in red dye and high heels, never reached her dream of looking like Rita Hayworth and, by chance, marrying a prince from distant lands.
At the time, gossip about show-business celebrities was nothing compared to the explosive levels it reaches today in the huge and dominant information platforms of the Internet, where a headline about the latest mass killing at a school in the United States may rank equally, or below, the latest steamy dress exhibited by Jennifer Lopez, or any other actress with less artistic talent, but with enough curves, public life, or money to keep up with the hype.
These are myths and individual fame aimed at trivializing culture and monopolizing the attention of an audience eager to follow the bombastic life of the rich and famous, instead of the political, cultural or economic events that, in their fabric of human implications, could indeed influence their own lives.
The sensationalism irradiating from individuals is winning the battle from the social fact as part of the US-Americanization of the myth that –without landing craft or air strikes– invades and seduces millions of minds settled in Europe (also an exporter of those empty values), Asia, and Latin America.
“Information” maneuvers with the clear central objective to have de-politicization and banality govern the everyday life of an international society that –according to their plan– should become increasingly more individual and private, and less collective and social.
This cultural model based on sensationalism, the excessive transcendence of the image, and the exaltation of celebrities (true or fabricated), is aimed at focusing popular attention on egocentric principles with numbing effects. It has the same purpose – only now on a scale unimaginable in the mid 20th Century—that one day made my cousin try and fail to look like Rita Hayworth.
Author: Yeilén Delgado Calvo
May 4, 2018 21:05:20
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
For schools to be a place of love and inclusion, where ethical principles and references for life are built and reinforced, means preventing and confronting all manifestations of discrimination.
Teachers must therefore have the tools to identify situations of harassment, as well as the clarity and scientific culture to address these realities. In addition, the family should alert them to any experience of rejection, physical, verbal or psychological abuse suffered or referred by their child in the school setting, and reinforce the culture of respect from home.
Mariela Castro Espín, director of the National Sex Education Center (Cenesex), urged this during the press conference of the 11th International Conference on Sex Education. edition of the Cuban Conference against Homophobia and Transphobia, which will run until 18 May, to promote respect for free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity.
Although the Cuban school stands out in the world for its levels of security, realities marked by mockery, physical or verbal abuse, situations of social exclusion and the use of a naturalized homophobic and sexist language must be made visible in order to overcome them, said Mariela.
The Director of Cenesex, an institution that celebrates its 30th anniversary, highlighted the support of the Cuban Party and Government in raising awareness among the population, educating them to overcome prejudices and moving forward, without ignoring resistance, in generating awareness and consensus. He also mentioned the alliances with Cuba’s Central de Trabajadores and the Ministry of Education, and said that the significance of Cuba’s projection for schools without homophobia or transphobia transcends its borders, since the island is a point of reference.
The agenda of the Conference gives relevance to the topics of formation, and the province of Pinar del Río will be the venue. Two emblematic events are to be held: the Gala, at the Karl Marx Theatre, on May 11 at 8:30 p.m.and the Conga and Diversity Festival, which this year begins at 6:30 p.m. May 12, and will go from Línea y Paseo to the José Antonio Echeverría Recreational Center.
By Darío Gabriel Sánchez García
Journalist and photojournalist. Professor of Photography and Audiovisual Production at the Faculty of Communication of the University of Havana.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.This Friday, the stage of the great Cuban events, the Karl Marx Theatre, was filled with people at the 11th Cuban gala against homophobia and transphobia, under the slogan “For schools without homophobia and transphobia”.
The gala featured nationally recognized international artists such as Alain Daniel, Diván, Haila, Laritza Bacallao, Migue-DECUBA, Proyecto Voces, Yotuel, as well as the dance companies Acosta Danza, Rakatán, Coro de la Escuela René Vilches, Latin Dance Ballet and Revolution.
With the presence of Roberto Morales Ojeda, Minister of Public Health, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and Vice-President of the State Council; Ena Elsa Velázquez, Minister of Higher Education; José Ramón Saborido, Minister of Higher Education and Mariela Castro Espín, Director of the National Sex Education Center (Cenesex), among other personalities, this eleventh edition is being held within the framework of the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of Cenesex, an institution that since 2007 has strengthened its educational strategy to promote the full and responsible exercise of sexual rights as inherent to human beings.
Beyond the artistic display, the gala was also the occasion for the presentation of special awards by Cenesex to Carla Antonelli, and recognized LGBT rights activist who since 2011 serves as deputy of the Assembly of Madrid by the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, becoming the first and only transgender woman in Spain to accede to this position. Also honored was Mike Jackson, an English activist and one of the founders of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, a lesbian and gay organization that came together to support striking miners from 1984 to 1985 in Britain after the Thatcher government confiscated funds from that sector of the workforce.
The “In memoriam” prize was awarded to the recently deceased journalist, researcher and professor Isabel Moya Richard. From her position as director of the Women’s Publishing House, of the magazine Mujeres, and as president of the Chair of Gender and Communication at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism, Isabel Moya was always a fervent defender of gender equality.
By Evelyn Corbillón Díaz
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Carrying banners, multicolored banners and the national flag, attendees danced down José Martí Street to Independence Park on the day the World Health Organization’s General Assembly removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses in 1990.
Comparsas, floats, bands of schools and artists on stilts of the street theater group Tecma, integrated the parade this morning with the population of the westernmost territory of Cuba.
I am part of the Revolution, I am also Fidel, were some of the slogans of Pinar del Río residents, visitors from other provinces and latitudes who joined the Cuban conga; and many did not miss the opportunity to share the moment on social networks.
For schools without homophobia or transphobia is the motto of the educational campaign that for the second consecutive year accompanies this day, and focuses on homophobic and transphobic bullying.
Gelen Valdés, an eleventh-grader at the Rafael Ferro Urban Pre-University Institute in this city, defended the right to free sexual orientation and assured ACN that it could not miss the conga to share with diverse people and enjoy.
Pinar del Río, the host province of the eleventh Cuban Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, is hosting an extensive programme of activities since Tuesday, including exhibitions, literary presentations, mini-sports, exchanges in educational centres and conferences by Dr Mariela Castro Espín, director of the National Centre for Sex Education.
Castro Espín thanked the people of Pinar del Río for their participation in this type of activities, including the National Program of Education and Sexual Health; he assured that the whole island is advancing in the goals of the Revolution, and one of its struggles is against homophobia and transphobia.
(Photos available for this information at http://fotos.acn.cu)
ecd/mpv/cmb 18 13:07
Por Evelyn Corbillón Díaz
Pinar del Río, 17 may (ACN) Pinareños de todas las edades y sectores desfilaron por la arteria principal de esta ciudad en muestra de respeto a la libre y responsable orientación sexual e identidad de género, en la conga cubana contra la homofobia y la transfobia.
Portadores de pancartas, banderolas multicolores y de la enseña nacional, los asistentes bailaron por la calle José Martí hasta el Parque de la Independencia, en el día en que en 1990 la Asamblea General de la Organización Mundial de la Salud eliminó a la homosexualidad de la lista de enfermedades mentales.
Comparsas, carroza, bandas de escuelas vueltabajeras y artistas en zancos del grupo de teatro callejero Tecma, integraron el desfile de esta mañana junto a la población del territorio más occidental de Cuba.
Soy parte de la Revolución, yo también soy Fidel, fueron algunas de las consignas de pinareños, visitantes de otras provincias y latitudes que se sumaron a la conga cubana; y muchos no perdieron la oportunidad de compartir el momento en las redes sociales.
Por escuelas sin homofobia ni transfobia es el lema de la campaña educativa que por segundo año consecutivo acompaña a esta jornada, y se centra en el bullying o acoso escolar homofóbico y transfóbico.
Gelen Valdés, alumna de oncena grado del Instituto Preuniversitario Urbano Rafael Ferro, de esta ciudad, defendió el derecho a la libre orientación sexual y aseguró a la ACN que no podía perderse la conga para compartir con personas diversas y disfrutar.
Pinar del Río, provincia sede de la oncena jornada cubana contra la homofobia y la transfobia, acoge desde el martes un amplio programa de actividades que incluye exposiciones, presentaciones literarias, miniferias, intercambios en centros educacionales y conferencias de la doctora Mariela Castro Espín, directora del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual.
Castro Espín agradeció a la población pinareña por su participación en este tipo de actividades, incluso, en el Programa Nacional de Educación y Salud Sexual; en tanto aseguró que toda la isla avanza en las metas de la Revolución, y una de sus luchas, es contra la homofobia y la transfobia.
(Fotos disponibles para esta información en http://fotos.acn.cu)
ecd/mpv/cmb 18 13:07
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Learn without fear. To make the daily lesson the realisable idea of having a space where to accept and respect, to listen to the other in peace; where mockery, mistreatment, punishment are crushed by dialogue, and security is never a chimera.
Say school, and you will have said that, and more, because you can’t think of this institution any other way. Efforts to eliminate all forms of violence in society, and particularly in schools, are therefore welcome.
This is one of the messages that the Cuban Conference against Homophobia and Transphobia is bringing us in these days. I’m included! For schools without homophobia or transphobia, which in its 11th edition – whose headquarters is in the province of Pinar del Rio – not only promotes respect for free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity, as an exercise in social justice and equity, but also chooses a strategic scenario for it.
“Emotional violence and exclusion generate suffering, and it is not something that can be tolerated for any reason,” Mariela Castro Espín, director of the National Sex Education Center (Cenesex), told Granma.
There is an essential space, which could not be left out of this campaign that Cenesex organizes every two years, and that is the school, the interviewee confirmed, for whom she cannot lose sight of the fact that the causes of situations of violence are often interrelated.
“If we start from the fact that homophobia and transphobia are rooted in culture, institutional dynamics and relationships between people, which makes it difficult to make them visible as a social problem and their need for prevention, it can be easily understood that both phenomena are present in the schools, as a reflection of a changing social reality that requires more effective social action,” she explained.
Hence, the emphasis on these types of discrimination. This does not mean that the rest of the causes are not being addressed, but it is undeniable that we should focus on those areas where the “education” of homophobia begins, added Dr. Castro Espín.
“Cuba is a safe country, the Cuban school is safe, the family has confidence in it, and what we are looking for with these campaigns is to raise awareness, to address worries, and to provide education and guidance to the population, based on scientifically proven data in studies that we conducted in the Center and other institutions on the subject. They alert us to the need to make any of these expressions visible, in order to provide the appropriate response accordingly,” said the expert.
IN SEARCH OF TOOLS AGAINST VIOLENCE
According to academic sources at Cenesex, “studies of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Cuba are still scarce and are not focused on homophobic and transphobic violence as categories of analysis, but on violence in general”.
“Only some research addresses violence that has its origin in the prejudices and stereotypes associated with gender roles, those that the dominant cultures assign to men and women in order to maintain a social order that services the economic interests of the ruling classes,” they say.
In this sense, Dr. Castro Espín explains that, in the case of children, they do not work with or handle concepts such as sexual orientation or gender identity, but rather that prejudices are exercised through the expression of gender, which is also constructed from what we educate as roles historically assigned to the masculine and feminine.
But it must be understood, she said, that homophobic and transphobic violence in schools affects all those who are in this situation: victims, perpetrators and witnesses.
It also has a significant impact on the physical and mental health and well-being of the educational community, and adversely affects access to education, academic achievement and job prospects. “These situations create a climate of insecurity, fear and discontent in the school community. They diminish confidence in educational staff and the institution, increase the risk of self-injurious behavior and hinder the construction of enriching and non-judgmental relationships,” say scholars.
“The positive emotional environment that the school must create is fundamental for learning,” said the specialist, who pointed out that the Cuban state’s educational policy has a responsibility to continue to promote the values of inclusion, not hatred.
“Hate is begins with adults, not children. They are the ones who educate or transmit the prejudices, so the campaign is strongly aimed at making this understood,” he said.
Today, one of the main challenges facing Cenesex is to find appropriate and effective teaching tools that allow students, teachers and their families to tackle these phenomena. It is also a response to UNESCO’s call for states to investigate and address bullying issues in the context of violence in schools, said the director of the center.
The role of comprehensive sexuality education as a basis for training to prepare for and prevent violence is critical, she added.
In line with this, Manuel Vázquez Seijido, Deputy Director of Cenesex, pointed out that Resolution 139 of 2011 is a legal norm issued by the Ministry of Education itself. It orders and introduces sexuality education from the curricular point of view. It is an educational element that can become a framework that guarantees schools without homophobia or transphobia, if these elements are emphasized in the formative process.
The issue, he said, is to protect the fundamental rights of individuals, and this implies a shared responsibility that must be assumed and articulated by all sectors of society.
In Cuba, according to Cenesex experts, research that has dealt with homophobic and transphobic violence in schools has done so indirectly, one of the axes of analysis being the school environment. Likewise, another common element in these studies in our country has been the fragmentation of the samples in the LGBTI population, which prevents the integrated analysis and systematization of the results.
In this regard, they argue that retrospective research, conducted with samples of adult LGBT activists, offers among their main elements: difficulties in the processes of adaptation and permanence of trans people in school because they do not accept the school uniform established according to their legal identity (Castro, 2015; Suárez, 2015). In addition, there are experiences of rejection, physical, verbal and psychological mistreatment of trans people by students and some teachers, because they do not accept their gender expressions (Castro, 2015; Suárez, 2015) Also, there is the inability to begin or continue higher education because of the contradictions between their gender expressions and institutional norms (Castro, 2015). Finally, there is the tendency towards social exclusion of trans people in educational institutions (Castro, 2015).
For example, out of a total of 160 people surveyed, from 12 provinces in the country, 142 have been victims of homophobic acts (Garcés, 2015).
On the other hand, studies carried out in some school spaces in Havana show the existence of physical and verbal abuse, situations of social exclusion, as well as the use of a naturalized homophobic and sexist language (Rodney, 2015).
Some clues about the above can be found in the progressive exploratory study on homophobic and transphobic violence in the school careers of Cuban LGBT activists, by the authors Delia Rosa Suárez Socarrás, Massiel Rodríguez Núñez, Marais del Río Martín, Ada Caridad Alfonso Rodríguez, Gisett Suárez Gutiérrez. Their results, although they cannot be generalized to Cuban society, do offer important warning elements to work with.
The retrospective and exploratory investigation, which aimed to characterize the homophobic and transphobic violence experienced by activists of the Community Social Networks during their trajectory for Cuban schools, had, as a sample, 90 activists from the following networks: Youth for sexual health and rights; Transcuba. Network of Transgender people, couples and families; Lesbian and bisexual women; Humanity for diversity (HXD); and Men who have sex with men (MSM).
According to the text, “the average age of the sample was 28.1 years with a trend of 22 years of age. Attendance was predominantly white (48), followed by mestizo (25) and black (17) people from the provinces of Havana, Villa Clara and Santiago de Cuba. Most of the people studied in the urban areas of their provinces and the external regime was predominant.
“Distribution by sexual orientation and gender identity as stated by the subjects was 38 gay men, 27 transgender people, 19 lesbian women, 5 bisexual women and 1 bisexual man.
“The schooling completed was concentrated in Secondary Education. At the time of the investigation, 25 people were in higher education, mostly gay men.
Among the elements of analysis that stand out in the results, the authors cite school dropout, while “22 subjects indicated that they had left school at some point in their school career, and only 9 returned, mostly trans people who sought to complete their secondary education”.
According to the research, “the average age of dropout was concentrated at 16.6 years of age at the end of secondary school, with trans people being the most represented. Of the 22 people who reported having dropped out of school, 13 referred to the fact that this decision was linked to the situations of violence of which they were victims in the school environment . They experienced physical abuse, their opinions weren’t listened to, threats against them weren’t listened to, or they were ignored, mocked, had their belongings, stolen, were insulsted, sexually abused, sexually abused, not allowed to wear the uniform they wanted, were left home, not allowed to participate in activities, contracted the HIV virus, or needed to work because the family did not cover their basic needs.
Trans people (9) are the ones who mostly refer to this experience, followed by lesbian women (3)”.
“The response of the educational institutions focused on the change of study regime or on the isolation of the victims: (…) the solution from the residences was to put us in semi-boarding schools, (…) the daily trips (…)”, some of the testimonies state.
“It should be noted that the measures implemented could be considered a form of revictimization, since it is the victims of violence against whom measures are taken and not on those who victimize them,” the authors point out.
Among those who perpetrated violence, researchers cite students, teachers, the victims’ own families, relatives of other students, teaching support staff and others.
Support networks within the school were practically non-existent, and there was a tendency to normalize the situations that occurred: (…) they are the work of boys, they should not be given importance (…) The support, in the cases in which it was present, came from students who intervened to stop the mistreatment, according to the study.
“Verbal aggressions coming from friends were not seen as forms of violence: (…) they told me that they could make jokes and play with me, but we did not allow anyone to play with you (…), while the attitude of the teachers was aimed at silencing the situations and placing the blame on the victims”.
Another element of interest is that the people affected decided not to report when they suffered violence due to homophobia and transphobia. Among the reasons for not making the complaint are: Not being prepared to make sexual orientation public: (…) I didn’t say anything because my family didn’t know about it (…) The immobility of the teaching staff results in impunity for the aggressors: (…) Even though you denounced the abuse, nothing happened (…) Fear of the consequences against double stigmatization: (…) if you made a complaint, they made fun of you because you were gay and a snitch (…)
“Such evidence shows that it is essential to sensitize student organizations to act as support networks for situations of violence in the school setting. It is vitally important to strengthen the training of teachers and non-teaching staff in the identification and prevention of homophobic and transphobic violence,” the Cenesex experts say.
It so happens that homophobic and transphobic violence in the school setting reflects homophobia and social transphobia. “Preventing and confronting these manifestations of discrimination in schools contributes to guaranteeing one of the principles of the National Education System in Cuba: access to education free of discrimination. Thus, it will be necessary to promote, not only specific policies and regulations, but also social and cultural changes, which are expressed in subjectivities and therefore in the relations between people,” says the campaign of the 11th edition of this Conference.
Nothing compares to always, and without exception, listening to children and young people in Cuba, who say that they like their school, because fear has no place in it.
COMMENTS ON WEB:
Very enlightening interview with Mariela and the information she provides on the few studies that have been done on the subject. However, I believe that in addition to raising awareness in the aftermath, it is also necessary to raise awareness and educate the family, mainly parents, about the way in which they should deal with situations that may arise with their children and to give them tools, especially to parents of primary school children, to explain to them according to their age how to treat and accept and not to discriminate and to give them guidance on how to explain to them that it is homosexuality and transsexuality (I am referring to primary school children). Because although they are parents from a generation closer to these times and are not permeated by prejudice, I imagine it must be difficult for them to give this kind of information to their children. And I point this out because of the negative comments made by the readers in the articles that reported on the conga for the day against homophobia in terms of allowing the participation of minors, who have no level of understanding of what it means to be gay, lesbian, transgender, etc.
Eusebio Hdez said:
May 16, 2018
It is good that the school is a place of wide inclusion. However, with this campaign it would appear that violence is associated with gender issues, when it is not exactly so. The campaign against any kind of violence should be extended to ¨Bullying¨ For example against disabled, skin color, personal appearance, etc.