Student group marches to Education Ministry to call for LGBT rights

A group of students held a “student pride parade” on 29 July by marching to the Ministry of Education to call for equal rights and protection for LGBT students.

Students carrying a large rainbow flag during the march

The event, organized by the student activist group Bad Student, took place this morning at 10.00 and was joined by around 30 high school students, each holding placards or sporting rainbow colours to represent the LGBT pride flag. One student was also seen with the non-binary pride flag over their shoulders.

A student is seen carrying the transgender pride flag

Another student is wearing a uniform shirt painted in rainbow colours and is also carrying a rainbow flag

LGBT rights activist Sirisak Chaited came from Chiang Mai to join the students' march

The group walked nearly two kilometres along Ratchadamnoen Road from opposite the Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall to the Ministry of Education, singing a version of "Lamalila," a song often heard at school and university events, modified to talk about the discrimination faced by LGBT students.

The cloth banner saying "we are not freaks" which the students carrying with them in front of the march

The group marching past the United Nations building

On the steps in front of the Ministry building, several members of the group performed symbolic actions to make a statement about their demands. One member shaved their hair while another removed her male student uniform to reveal a blouse and a skirt underneath. Another also tore up a health education textbook, saying that it is outdated and perpetuates negative perceptions of LGBT people.

Another student who took part in the march was also wearing a student uniform with insults they have received from teachers and other students written on it as a statement about the bullying faced by LGBT students in Thai schools.

A student shaved their head in a symbolic action against draconian haircut rules.

Students standing on the steps in front of the Ministry building, carrying a large rainbow flag

Representatives of the group then submitted their petition, which states that, because the rights of LGBT students are not currently protected by any law and because LGBT students are faced with misunderstandings about their identity, the group is making the following four demands:

  1. The Ministry of Education must amend the 2020 haircut regulations to allow LGBT students to choose the hairstyle that matches their gender identity.
  2. LGBT students must be able to choose to wear the uniform which matches their identity, and the Ministry must design a uniform for genderfluid students or entirely abolish school uniforms so that every student may be able to dress according to their gender identity.
  3. The Ministry must review current textbooks and stop the sale of textbooks which contain misunderstandings about LGBT people, as well as repealing any evaluation form or school regulation that contains sexist views or discriminate against LGBT students.
  4. The Ministry of Education must make sure that teachers and education personnel treat every student equally regardless of gender and that they do not discriminate against or bully students based on their gender identity.

The petition was received by the Permanent Secretary Prasert Boonruang, who said that the Ministry will consider what changes need to be made and that the process will take at least two or three months. However, when pressed by the students to promise that changes will be made as well as to answer questions about the Ministry’s new haircut regulations, which was released on 30 March but did not see implementation in many schools and have been criticised for being unclear, he refused to answer and left before the representatives could finish speaking.

Some of the placards seen at the march. The student in the second picture is also carrying a ribbon in the colours of the lesbian pride flag.
The sign in the last picture says "my teacher said that LGBT being in a relationship is disguisting, it won't last, it's unnatural." One of the pieces of paper on the sign also said "you'll like men when you grow up."

Speaking to reporters present at the event, one student representative said “remember that today is the day the Permanent Secretary walked away from students and was unable to answer questions from the students in his care. We have submitted a petition three times, and he still cannot promise us anything.”

The student representative also said that the new haircut regulations did not take into account students’ opinions, and that they still violate their rights as the new regulations still require students to be clean-shaven.