Their petition coincides with the annual nationwide Teachers’ Day on Sept. 10.
The activists urged universities in an open letter to correct teaching materials that might prompt discrimination against LGBT people as well as to offer gender diversity courses, according to scmp.com. The letter also asked that universities allow gay students to establish special clubs and communities.
The petition was jointly sent by three mainland China organizations — Changsha-based China Same Sex Love, Beijing-based LGBT Rights Advocacy China and Nanjing-based anti-discrimination group Justice for All.
“We appeal and encourage principals at various universities to play a positive role in gender equality education, to face up [to] the basic demands of sexual-minority students including gays, bisexuals and transgenders,” they stated in the letter that was sent to the universities by registered post.
Activists also included an appeal for stronger protection against LGBT related bullying.
“When gay students are facing bullies, please guarantee their rights and offer them psychological support. When the university’s regulations violate the rights of gay students, please be brave [and] make changes,” the letter said.
The Guangzhou-based Gay and Lesbian Campus Association in China had in its report in August pointed out that after reviewing 90 mainland textbooks about psychology published after 2001, less than half included contents on same-sex relations. Also that more than 40 per cent defined “homosexuality” as an illness.
This was despite same-sex relations in the early 2000s being removed from China’s list of mental illnesses.
“We always believe that as a place with relatively open culture and thinking, a university is [meant] to cultivate hope and [the] future of the country, and it should accept different voices and groups,” the activists said in the letter.
An earlier survey conducted by Aibai Culture and Education Centre in May 2012 showed than more than three-fourths of 421 students from junior and senior middle schools, universities and vocational colleges in Beijing and Guangzhou said they had faced physical and verbal bullying at school because of their sexual orientation.
Xiang Xiaohan, founder of China Same Sex Love, expressed the hope that the principals would listen to their demands. “If they fail to contact us through e-mail or telephone calls, we would seek information disclosures [from] these universities, to see [if there is] any discrimination in university regulations,” Xiang told scmp.com.