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House reps tackle balancing rights of schools with gender expression

LAWMAKERS on Tuesday discussed the need to balance the rights of academic institutions with gender expression as they continued their deliberations on a bill that will prohibit all forms of discrimination.

“What is important is the right to education. The most important is for the student, whether they are gay or not… is schools accept them… as long as they abide by the policies of the schools,” Quezon City Rep. Jesus C. Suntay, chair of the House Committee on Human Rights, said in Filipino during Tuesday’s hearing.

In the committee’s continuation of deliberations over the proposed Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Law, the draft substitute bill that consolidated 10 House bills, lawmakers said anti-discrimination policies will have to go hand-in-hand with other rights.     

“We have to balance rights of everyone, even the rights of schools,” Mr. Suntay said.

The substitute bill states that it is unlawful for schools to impose discriminative sanctions and penalties that infringe on the rights of students and trainees.

However, the provision still provides that all institutions, whether sectarian or non-sectarian, reserve the right to determine what is considered reasonable decorum expected from students.

Bataan Rep. Geraldine B. Roman said while the bill is intended to allow freedom of gender identity expressions in schools, rules still must be followed for a number of institutions that are sectarian.

“It is the right of the church and schools to implement their religious systems,” she said during the hearing. — Gillian M. Cortez

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