There’s been a rise in the number of incidents in Japan where students who have confided in their teachers about their sexuality have been outed to their parents, the Japan Times reports.
Rights group Kyosei Net says that there’s a lack of education among teachers about how best to support young LGBT+ people. While the teachers aren’t ill-intentioned, their lack of awareness has harmful consequences on their students.
Minato Hara—a Kyosei Net representative—has consulted with students whose sexuality or gender identity has been revealed without consent.
In one case, “Although the LGBT student only consulted with the teacher in charge, the parents found out immediately,” says Hara.
She added that some parents have reprimanded their children after finding out, believing that being LGBT+ was a result of the child’s upbringing.
Hara told the Japan Times that one transgender student who confided in their teacher ahead of a school trip discovered that their classmates had been informed of their gender identity without their consent.
“Most of the teachers are just acting because they want people around them to be aware. But since they lack a common understanding, they are often just playing it by ear,” says Hara.
There’s also a lack of LGBT+ sex education available to students in Japan—with the government commenting that it would be too “difficult” because “the public and guardians have not accepted” the topic yet.
While the education ministry did distribute a pamphlet last year about how teachers can support their LGBT+ students—advocates say it’s not enough.
“There is still a huge awareness gap among teachers,” a primary school teacher from the Tohoku region said.
“The issue of how to deal with this is close at hand. We have to firmly grasp the knowledge and have support measures in place.”