What’s Being Done About Homophobia in Iceland’s Schools?

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Iceland is often in the foreign media for its position on many indexes for human rights, equality, and social justice. Although the LGBT+ community enjoys many rights in Iceland, homophobia still remains a problem, especially in schools.

If you are interested in what the official policy is on LGBT+ students is in the Icelandic school system, you may find the official Reykjavík City website helpful.

Concerning specific steps taken to ensure the safety and well being of LGBT+ students in Iceland, there have been many initiatives and task forces lately to confront these problems, including a 2021 Task Force on Gender Neutral Facilities in Schools and a 2022 Task Force on the Status of Gender and LGBT+ Education in Reykjavík City Schools.

Currently, Reykjavík City has a 2019-2023 Human Rights and Democracy Action Plan, which entails both a report on the state of the rights of sexual minorities in Iceland, in addition to suggestions for improvement. Some suggestions include not assuming heterosexuality in schools, more open sexual education, and more mental health resources for students.

Reykjavík is also a part of the Rainbow Cities Network, a platform for cities devoted to improving LGBT+ issue. Among other requirements for certification in the Rainbow Cities Network, public employees must undergo training in issues relating to the LGBT+ community.

Homophobia in Icelandic schools is also a part of a broader discussion of bullying and mental health in young people, which has recently surfaced in the news.

We have also reported on a significant case of hate speech in Iceland, in which an individual was fined for his 2015 online comments that were found to be homophobic. Although originally acquitted, his comments were ultimately found to be in violation of Article 233 (a) of the General Penal Code, which forbids defamation, libel, threats, and discrimination. The court ruled that his comments were “serious, severely hurtful and prejudicial,” and he was fined ISK 100,000 (around EUR 800 at the time).