THAILAND. Bangkok. Student rights activists hosted the first pride parade in the country to demand rights for their fellow LGBTQ+ students while the permanent-secretary of the Ministry of Education (MOE) failed to answer their questions and walked away.
On 29 July, a group of high school students, Bad Student group, hosted a 1.3 kilometers pride parade from Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall to the Education Ministry. The parade was held under the theme of #เราไม่ใช่ตัวประหลาด (#WeAreNotWeirdos). Their four demands were that the MOE revises the haircut rules, revises the dress codes, revises the discriminatory curriculum, and ends discriminatory treatment in schools.
While walking, they sang a parody sport-cheering song, “La Malila,” in which their lyrics consisted of issues Thai LGBTQ+ students have to face in schools: textbooks state that LGBTQ+ people are abnormal, uniforms and haircuts rules that are specified for only boys and girls, and the education authorities that fail to acknowledge and solve the problems.
Symbolic expressions to protest outdated actions
A representative from Bad Student, Laponpat Wangpaisit, said LGBTQ+ students are oppressed under antiquated ideas set by the MOE. Several health education textbooks state that people who do not act like their biological genders have mental disorders. Wangpasit tore a textbook as a symbolic expression and said the textbook is outdated and useless.
Another student defended students’ rights to control their own bodies as there are specific MOE haircuts and uniform rules enforced at every public school. The student said all the rules contradict basic human rights before undressing out of a boy’s uniform and changing into a girl’s uniform.
Authorities failed to listen and answer
MOE Permanent-Secretary Prasert Boonruang came out as a representative to receive their petition. Boonruang said it is necessary to make everyone happy, but there must be many organizations involved in the rule-changing process, so he could not promise when it will be done. He said the case would be taken into consideration before he refused to answer any question and immediately walked away.
Wangpaisit asked members of the press to remember this day as the permanent-secretary failed to answer students’ questions. Wangpaisit said this is not the first time he came to submit a petition regarding the haircut rules, but he has not seen any progress from the authorities.
“We are being oppressed, violated, deprived. You never acknowledge. You never inspect schools,” Wangpaisit said. “Is this your promise? Is this your change? It’s the same. Our rights are deprived even more.”