Understanding the full spectrum of sexuality and gender to reduce cyberbullying

Research on bullying among secondary and vocational students in greater Bangkok, which was conducted in 2019 by Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Economics and dtac, confirms that LGBT youth account for 46.67% of bullying victims.

In response, dtac Safe Internet has joined with Plan International Thailand, a non-profit organization fighting for the rights of children, to co-design online curriculum titled “Gender Diversity: Respect to Stop Cyberbullying.” Designed for teachers, it enables them to provide students’ an education on online threats.

Krongkaew Panjamahaporn, a specialist on gender-equality at Plan International Thailand, said, “Online and offline bullying happens because people do not understand diversity. Those who appear different are typically singled out and labelled as black sheep. In fact, differences and diversity are the norm. The human race has a vast genetic diversity of physical characteristics. Sexual orientation, too, can be diverse.”

“From childhood, humans are taught just two genders – male and female – the only two genders identified on birth certificates. Later in their lives, many babies will grow up and find out that their gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned to at birth. Such cases are just natural,” she added.

How to Explain Gender and Sexuality

To promote a better public understanding of sexual diversity, the acronym SOGIESC describes four dimensions of gender and sexuality.

  1. Sexual Orientation (SO) means a pattern of emotional, romantic or sexual attraction. Sexual orientation may include attraction to the same gender or a different gender. It comes naturally to humans, just like an instinct, and absolutely normal.
  2. Gender Identity (GI) means the personal sense of one’s own gender. Gender identity may or may not correlate with a person’s assigned sex at birth.
  3. Gender Expression (GE) means the expression of one’s gender that may be shaped by families. For example, females are encouraged to wear long hair, walk femininely, and be gentle. 
  4. Sex Characteristics (SC) means sex characteristics of a person since birth. Based on these characteristics, humans are categorized into either males or females.

“Diversity is natural. Many people have realized that they do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth or that they feel attracted to persons of the same sex. Such realization is a part of self-discovery. Some may find out that they are transsexual or homosexual during their childhood, but others do so during adulthood. Such realization is a result of physical development and social learning. Humans may choose a different gender or sexuality during each chapter of their life,” Ms. Krongkaew added.

After Self-Discovery, What’s Next?

Sexual orientation that does not conform to public expectations is by no means an abnormality. Yet, LGBTs often feel ashamed, uneasy and ambivalent.

“When a person finds out that he or she is an LGBT, the most important thing is self-love. They must appreciate themselves as they are, no matter what gender or sexuality one chooses. The faster that acceptance happens, the better,” Ms. Krongkaew explained.

Nonetheless, she recommends that young persons who wish to come out as gay or transsexual first assess the mindset of parents first. Not all parents have the skills needed to handle this issue well. And they must tread carefully to avoid conflicts.

“Parents indeed should give children opportunities to live their own life. When children can live happily, they thrive. School matters, too. It’s children’s primary social space and it should be a caring, friendly and safe environment. Schools should teach that diversity is common and natural. Differences are not abnormalities,” said Ms. Krongkaew.

dtac Safe Internet series also supports the podcast “R U OK Safe Internet”, featuring content on how to use the internet safely. Click here for more on gender diversity and its role in preventing cyberbullying CLICK