UP offers safety for all LGBTQ
UP takes pride in being a sanctuary of openness, acceptance, and liberalism for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community. No matter how they identify or express themselves, all LGBTQ students are assured a safe, welcoming space at UP.
One way to offer protection is by giving due process to anti-harassment cases such as sexual harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff on UP campuses. These cases, handled by the Office of Anti-Sexual Harassment (OASH) and the Women and Gender Offices of each UP constituent unit, can range from not using the proper pronouns to “classical” forms of stigmatization based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including exclusion from or ostracism by a group or organization, ridiculing and name-calling, bullying, violence, and sexual assault.
Another way that UP offers to help LGBTQ students is to share their stories involving sexual harassment and discrimination or by friends and witnesses. These are done to vent, seek counsel, protect the victim, or inform. Only a few of these come intending actually to file a case. Some LGBTQ students who experience harassment, discrimination, violence, bullying, or abuse end up transferring to another university.
First Sexual Health Clinic in the Philippines Launched
The UP-PGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology launched its new unit, the first of its kind in the country, the Division of Sexual Health (DSH), on November 29, 2021, to promote wellness and address pathologic conditions on sexual and reproductive health.
The DSH’s goal is to break the barriers to healthcare by providing a safe, welcoming, and culturally appropriate clinical environment where physicians can care for all gender categories with compassion and competence. cisgender women, their partners, and sexual minorities may avoid seeking health care due to fear of discrimination and disrespect in the clinic setting.
The unit offers information and counseling on the human sexual response to sexual dysfunction. It also provides counseling and support for sexual relationship problems, sexual health education for adolescents, addressing sexual dysfunction for all age groups, and managing morbidities related to the side effects of patients who underwent gender-affirming treatments.
The Division also deals with issues and counsels victims of sexual violence and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation; addresses concerns of sexual and gender minorities; manages mental health issues related to sexual health; counsels and educates the public on the impact of physical disabilities and chronic illnesses on sexual well-being; and promotes safe and satisfying sexual experiences.
Coming out of the closet
UP also extends help to LGBTQ students dealing with their families’ lack of acceptance when it comes to either their sexual identity or gender identity in the form of counseling and peer support.
“We can do something [to help them],” said UP Diliman Department of Psychology Prof. Eric Manalastas in an interview. “Our students are part of our community, and I don’t think we can make an artificial divide between the moment they step inside and outside the campus. We should be concerned about our students. That is why we equip them with the tools they can use outside the campus—critical thinking and resourcefulness, for example, and all those analytical tools we give them.”
At the heart of it all, UP is committed to creating a safe, open community in which all people are welcome regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identities, along with protection against homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and sexual harassment.
UP Anti-Sexual Harassment Code
UP does not condone sexual harassment of any kind. According to Section 1 of the UP Anti-Sexual Harassment Code: “The University values and upholds the dignity of every individual, and guarantees the full respect for human rights of all members of the UP community. To this end, the University shall maintain an enabling, gender-fair, safe and healthy learning and working environment for the UP community members.”
The UP Board of Regents approved the Anti-Sexual Harassment (ASH) Code for the entire UP System on January 26, 2017, superseding the UP Implementing Rules and Regulations on the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 (UPIRR) that the UP BOR approved in 1998. The Code also states that these policies and guidelines should be observed and applied to all UP community members, including teaching and non-teaching personnel, students, other UP workers, and UP organizations. In short, everyone, regardless of their position and gender, is protected under this Code.
Under the ASH Code of 2017, Offices of Anti-Sexual Harassment (OASH) were re-instituted under the Office of the Chancellor in each constituent unit of the University; thereupon, various initiatives were implemented to prevent and resolve sexual harassment and to protect the mental and physical well-being of sexual harassment victims and survivors. For example, UP Diliman launched the Protocol for Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response (GBV Protocol) which provides the guiding principles and standards of practice in handling any form of GBV that may occur within and outside the campus, in adherence to local and international codes and policies.
UP also actively conducts public information and education campaigns to promote awareness against sexual harassment and violence. The UP Center for Women and Gender Studies (CWGS), for example, offers feminist and gender-sensitive peer counseling/psycho-social assistance for women and LGBT persons, whether they are from the UP community or the general public. The CWGS seeks to provide a psychological safe space that fully recognizes the harm done to those who have experienced sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence.
Women in underrepresented subjects
While most societies around the world suffered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, women have been the most affected. At the opening ceremony of Women’s Month 2021 at UPM, Chancellor Carmencita Padilla pointed out that more women than men face job losses because they are over-represented in jobs hardest hit by the pandemic. With women are at the center of the COVID-19 response, comprising almost 70 percent of health workers, they are more prone to experience anxiety, depression, and psycho-social disorders. Consequently, UPM’s Women’s Month 2021 celebrated the efforts of Filipinas in dealing with the pandemic. Several open-access online activities were held honoring women, along with free services like mammography, breast and cervical screenings at the UP Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and HIV screening from the PGH Sagip Unit.
Another event focused on women in sports, media, and the arts where women are often misrepresented or under-represented. A webinar, Creating Safe Spaces for Women: The Role of Sports, Media, and the Arts in Eliminating VAW, focused attention on the need to create safe spaces for women by eliminating violence against women (VAW) and shaping society’s view of women’s worth. This publicly available activity was jointly sponsored by the UPM Office of the Gender Program, UPM-Center for Gender and Women’s Studies (CGWS), Bahagsari-UPM, and GABRIELA-Youth UPM. Topics included issues and solutions to gender discrimination in sports, media and violence against women, and art as a tool in championing women’s rights.
Caring, from cradle to cane
Child care centers are part of the campus landscape in several UP campuses.
UP Manila has Crèche, its early childhood care and development center, serving the young children of the employees and staff of UP Manila and PGH. It was founded on the belief “that quality education is attained through holistic approach and a clearly defined integrated core curriculum” so that the young under its care may “become healthy, responsible, productive and ethical members of Philippine society.”
At UP Diliman, there is the Kalinga Day Care Center (KDCC) which is overseen by the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. KDCC is a public, non-formal, non-structured alternative learning environment that aims to provide a comfortable and safe environment for children ages 1.6 to 5.5 years, to meet the developmental needs of children in a gender-fair and peaceful environment, and to promote positive self-concept in children.
UPLB, meanwhile, has been freely addressing concerns of those at the youngest and oldest ranges of the population. At the day care program of Child Development Laboratory (CDL) called Playshop, children learn to socialize through play. Through arts and crafts activities, outdoor adventures, free play, field trips, and household chores, children develop wholesome habits, engage better with people, and enjoy the environment. Meanwhile, the UPLB Elderly Development Program (UPLB EDP), has been providing periodic health and wellness activities and services for senior citizens of nearby communities. It is also a venue for volunteerism for students and staff, and a learning laboratory for human and family development studies. In the long run, EDP aims to be a model program for improving the quality of life of the elderly Filipinos and their communities.
Still at UPLB, the public service initiative of the College of Human Ecology (CHE) addresses the nutritional issues of vulnerable groups of society. The Barangay Integrated Development Approach for Nutrition Improvement (BIDANI) provides direct nutrition intervention to prevent malnutrition among children aged 0-24 months. Moreover, through KALINGA mix (i.e., a low-cost, flour-like mixture of rice, mungbean, and sesame seed that is high in energy, protein, and carbohydrates), the mothers of these children and the elderly are likewise provided for.
UP enhances hospitalization benefits for employees
UP is continuously for the welfare and well-being of all its personnel, whether academic, administrative, or contractual. Early in 2017, the University implemented the Enhanced Hospitalization Programme (eHOPE) for UP faculty, research, extension and professional staff (REPS), and administrative staff after the UP Board of Regents approved it in November 2016. A highlight of the eHOPE is the PhP80,000 yearly financial assistance for hospitalization expenses incurred during hospital confinement, which enhances the existing PhP200,000 lifetime coverage under the Financial Assistance Program for Hospitalization Expenses (FAPHE) for UP personnel. A PhP10,000 annual financial assistance is also provided for medicines prescribed during confinement and upon discharge of the UP employee.
eHOPE has been widely appreciated by UP personnel, as the Chancellors of various UP constituent units have successfully sealed partnerships with hospitals in their areas for a No Cash-Out Policy (i.e., no need for initial deposit upon hospital admission, so long as a UP identification card and letter of authorization are presented).
Maternity and Paternity Policies
Under national guidelines and policies such as the Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 5, s. 2021 as well as various laws, UP granted special leave benefits for eligible male and female employees to support their health and well-being.
Under Republic Act No 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, female UP employees are entitled to special leave for a maximum of two months per year with full pay for when they must undergo surgery for gynecological disorders. RA 11210, or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act, extended paid maternity leave to 105 days, regardless of the mode of delivery, civil status, legitimacy of the child, and employment status. Maternity leaves can be extended to 30 days without pay, while single working mothers get an additional 15 days for a total of 120 days of paid maternity leave. As for fathers, they are entitled to seven days’ paternity leave under RA 8187 or the Paternity Leave Act of 1996; in addition, a total of seven out of the 105 days of maternity leave may be transferred to the father, expanding fathers’ paid paternity leave to 14 days.
Single or solo parents are entitled to a parental leave of seven days under RA 8972 or the Solo Parent’s Welfare Act of 2000. Under the law, parents may perform their parental duties and responsibilities where their physical presence is required. This parental leave may be used continuously or on a staggered basis and is granted on top of the 3-day special leave and other mandatory leave benefits for employees.
As a special concern, under RA 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, victims of VAW are entitled to a maximum of 10 days’ leave with pay to enable them to attend to medical or legal affairs. They are also entitled to receive other leave benefits for employees.
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