The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Office of Gender Concerns (OGC) conducted a webinar entitled Rewind & Forward: A history of LGBT advocacy and the role of the academe in forwarding gender-inclusive policies last June 29, 2022. The speaker and participants in the forum discussed how the LGBT advocacy started and evolved, including the victories and milestones in the fight for LGBT rights.
Dr. Finaflor F. Taylan, the Director of OGC and Program Chair of the Diploma/Master of Social Work and the Diploma in Women and Development programs, formally opened the webinar and welcomed the participants. Dr. Taylan shared that the University of the Philippines as a system has created gender equality guidelines in 2015 to promote women empowerment and gender equality in the university. Through these guidelines, programs were instituted in the UP system that examines ways to make university processes and policies inclusive for everyone. Ms. Shaznay Nicole Sumiran served as the host of the forum.
Atty. Germaine Trittle Pe-Benito Leonin, the executive director of Philippine Financial and Inter-Industry Pride was the webinar’s resource speaker. Atty. Leonin discussed the diverse sexual identities within indigenous tribes during pre-colonial Philippines and emphasized that this is a part of our history that should be recognized.
According to Atty. Leonin, LGBT safe spaces and opportunities also started to arise – with youth organizations initiating these activities while the universities opened their learning spaces and gradually adapted a gender-sensitive lens in their policies and instruction through the years.
Concerns on how to address pronouns, mental health, allies, and stereotypes of portrayal in media were discussed during the Q&A session. Atty. Germaine also shared the importance of patience, openness, and progressive thoughts to the LGBT+ community – to be able to understand their situation better.
Dr. Taylan closed the webinar by giving a comprehensive synthesis of the points discussed and by sharing her insights on the issues and concerns tackled in the forum. She mentioned the importance of knowing the history of the movement in the Philippines, the diversity in the LGBT+ community, and transitions in our country, and to understand the journey and struggles of LGBT+ people. She also explained the need to “listen to his story, her story, and their story” to reach a better situational understanding towards attaining gender inclusive policies and systems. Dr. Taylan said that including the LGBT in the discussions in our spaces and initiatives starts from having empathy. “For LGBT, lumadlad [come out] if you want, and for allies, let us welcome them with our open heart and mind”, she added.