EU for EUquality

EUqualizer is an Erasmus+ project run by 5 countries (Spain, Malta, Finland, Turkey and Italy) in which we will tackle the problem of stereotypes. The project was created with a purpose to target educational institutions and organisations and help them bring conversation about stereotypes to different learning environments. In our project we will focus on 4 groups that need our attention: LGBT+ community, gender inequality, disability and racism.


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web page and all its content reflects the views only of the author and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

ABOUT

EUqualizer is a project that is a result of an international collaboration of 5 organisations from Spain, Italy, Turkey, Malta & Finland.The objectives of the project are based on the context and data which shows that many people daily experience daily unequal opportunities, injustices, hate speech and are overall put aside in the policy making level as well as when integrating in the society.Through different activities, such as creation of a research, awareness campaign and a creation of toolkit, we want to shine a light on all the injustices happening and also equip different organisations, schools with a toolkit, they can implement in their daily activities.We want to raise attention, we want to start a conversation and we want to make a change!


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web page and all its content reflects the views only of the author and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

PARTNERSHIP

Ingalicia is an NGO from A Coruña, Spain, that works on the field of youth, organising events, project and local initiatives to encourage a youth participation in the civic society and democratic life. They are a part of the Eurodesk network, informing young people of European opportunities.


Arcigay Torino “Ottavio Mai” is a local committee of Arcigay, one of the main LGBTQIA+ NGOs in Italy. Based in Turin, Arcigay Torino is a volunteer-based association whose mission is the dismantling of all prejudice and discrimination still faced by the LGBTQIA+ community, always keeping an intersectional approach. Our main focus includes education, advocacy, health, emotional and social support.


The mission of Learning for Integration ry, founded in 2012, is to promote the learning of languages and cultural sensitivity of migrant, immigrant and refugee children and youth in Finland and other Nordic countries in order to facilitate their integration into the new culture and the development of a multicultural society. We have a solid background in language teaching and material creation and we would like to use this experience to support our mission to create language awareness through activities such as playgroups for pre-school children, language exchange groups for adults and free language learning material and eLearning possibilities for all ages. We also participate in several Erasmus+ and NordPlus projects regarding immigration and language learning, technology and media, social issues, entrepreneurship, disadvantaged groups etc.


Skills Zone Malta is a training hub of 20 professional trainers in the field of Entrepreneurship, personal development and soft skills, training people in both f2f and online environment. Our area of expertise is in Entrepreneurship, Social Inclusion, Conflict Resolution, Wellbeing, Communication Skills, Emotional Intelligence, Problem Solving, Presentation Skills, Time Management, Interpersonal Skills, Marketing, Goal setting, Social media and Leadership & Management. Skills Zone Malta also offers mentoring programmes with a special focus on women. SZM to date is involved in 12 projects funded under Erasmus Plus.


MÖEUOIII (Manisa Özel Eğitim Uygulama Okulu III. Kademe), is a special education school that educates individuals (age 14- 21) with intellectual disabilities. They have a secondary school for kids (age 9-14) and there are almost 50 teachers work together for over 100 students with various special needs. With another special unit of another VET school, there are three special education schools under the same roof.



This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web page and all its content reflects the views only of the author and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

RESULTS

The research will be conducted on four different fields (LGBT+ community, gender inequality, disability and racism). We will investigate how different countries of the EU are dealing with battling the injustices and how are they improving approaching this problem. It will serve not only us, but hopefully also others. When done, it will be published on the web page and shared on other platforms and it will be free for all.

The campaign will serve us to raise awareness in the local community and international community. With it we want to share stories, experiences and hopefully connect people. We want to raise awareness, break the stigma, speak and be heard and include everyone that wants to participate.IF YOU WANT TO SHARE YOUR STORY, contact us euqualizer.project@gmail.com

The creation of the toolkit is an important tool for educators to implement the problem of stereotypes into their daily learning activities. We will create a MOOC, composed of 5 modules:
1. introduction to the topic
2-5: LGBT+, racism, gender inequality and disability: theoretical part and an interactive and practical one based on the principle of non-formal education activities.
The MOOC will be available for download of the toolkit for free, once created.


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web page and all its content reflects the views only of the author and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

EVENTS

A Coruña, 17-19.3.2022

1st TRANSNATIONAL MEETING IN A CORUÑA, SPAIN

In March the whole team of EUqualizer met in the beautiful, coastal town in the north of Spain; A Coruña. The transnational meeting served us not only to work on the tasks related to the project but also to get to know each other better and to start a beautiful cooperation between 5 countries participating in this 2 year project. The meeting served to us to define all the future results we want to achieve within this project and share it with you. The first result will be a research on the topic of different stereotypes and marginalised groups in Europe and how the current situation is in regard the 4 fields we are working on.Stay tuned for more news coming up soon! :)

Helsinki, 1-3.9.2022

2nd TRANSNATIONAL MEETING IN HELSINKI, FINLAND

In September the EUqualizer team met in the cold north - we visited Helsinki, where our partner Learning for integration ry is based. The visit was marked by the end of the research, we have been working on the past few months. Each partner was researching 5-6 countries of the EU, with the focus on the fields of LGBTQ+, disability, gender rights and racism and how each partner is dealing with it. During the meeting we have marked the following 6 months, which will be centred around a campaign to raise awareness on stereotypes and to include people from our local communities. In the next following months you can expect a lot of social media posts (if you don't yet follow us on Instagram, this is the sign that you should), blog posts on our website and in-person events, we are all so looking forward to.


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web page and all its content reflects the views only of the author and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

BLOG

Helsinki, November 2022

OVERCOMING NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES

There are many negative stereotypes against migrants and refugees in European countries, especially against those coming from outside of Europe. For example, in countries that are fairly homogenous, such as Finland and Latvia, there is more fear and prejudice focused on migrants coming from outside of Europe, such as Middle East and Africa, because their appearance and culture differ more from Europeans.
In reality, there is much more immigration from nearby countries, such as Russia and Estonia – and recently Ukraine – but due to the similarities they do not invoke such strong reactions in the population.

As the refugee “crisis” in 2015 proved, there is a lot of fear and misinformation connected with refugees.
In many countries, from Finland to Italy, one of the strongest stereotypes is the idea of migrants stealing jobs from local population. However, in most cases it is easier especially for refugees to get low-skilled jobs regardless of their level of education, and therefore they tend to take the jobs that locals do not want to do. In countries such as Finland, due to aging population there is also skills shortage in many fields, especially in the care sector, where migrant workers would be more than needed.

However, the refugee quotas remain low in comparison with other European countries, and the restrictions on migration are very strict.
There are also many positive examples, in some countries such as Denmark and Sweden migrants are being more and more integrated into the education system and therefore a higher percentage are reaching higher-skilled jobs.
However, it will take a lot of work and changes in attitudes to overcome stereotypes especially against migrants and refugees from third-world countries in Europe.
All we can do is be aware of this and work on it together.

Author:
Marja-Liisa Helenius


Torino, October 2022

COMING OUT IS NOT “ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL”

"Mom, dad. I have something to tell you...I'm gay"A standardised, teary-eyed, cinematic confession. Coming out is seen as a necessary rite of passage, but is it really a universal and essential experience?
We discuss coming out, coming in, pressure and power with two queer people.

Nowadays, mainstream culture has acknowledged — and sometimes even embraced — the concept of coming out of the closet. Coming out moments are increasingly often portrayed in movies, TV shows, commercials and online content, and it is perhaps the one aspect of queer life that is most familiar to people.
However, the risk is seeing it as a one-dimensional, one-size-fits-all element. Like the baggy dress of queer lives. But queer people come in all sizes and shapes. This is why we’ve asked two queer people who live in two different European countries their take on coming out.
We first had a chat with Sara, a cisgender asexual woman who lives in Italy. Sara is in her 30s, but she shared that she has already come out “countless times!”.There were a few "important" coming outs, with my family and my close friends, but from there on coming out is a process that never stops, every new person you meet will probably include a coming out moment sooner or later. Clearly, the emotional token of that is way less tough than with the people you've known half your life, but it still requires the weight of deciding whether to tell that or not, how, when, etc. Also, my first round of coming outs was related to a different label than the one I use now, so that implies that at some point I had to start all over and come out again to people I had already come out before, which wasn't necessarily easier.The non-final nature of coming out is something that is hardly ever portrayed in the mainstream discourse. Very often, queer people feel the pressure to over-compensate and justify their identity, especially after they’ve come out. The world is always eager to question it. So what if you come out as some particular identity and then, some years later — after deeper introspection or as a result of the fluidity of identity itself — you realise that label no longer suits you?
That’s happened to Sara, and it happened to Asker, as well.
Asker is a queer young man who lives in Denmark. His first coming out was as a homosexual girl, and it was a “silent coming out”, as he defines it:
Since my uncle is in a gay relationship, same sex couples have always been a normality in my family. So when I was 14 and brought my girlfriend home to meet my family, it was like any other partners. This was a silent coming out.But later on, he came out as transgender. First to himself (we call this “coming in”), then to people around him. And that journey was way longer:When I was 16 I finally got brave enough to share my gender dysphoria with my mother. The whole idea of gender was a new concept for my family to understand, and her reaction was “isn’t it rebellious enough you like girls?” After this my depression got worse, and our connection got worse. Now, years later, I’m still grateful for telling her about it. Despite her grief and struggle to understand, it made the process easier for her in my 20s when I transitioned.This leads me to my 3rd, last and most important coming out milestone in my life.
After struggling for years accepting it myself, overcoming the fear of finally realising “I will not live the rest of my life in regret” I decided to contact my doctor and begin hormonal transition. I was struggling with how to come out, since I never really use social media, and the whole idea of broadcasting it wasn’t really something I felt comfortable with or saw myself doing. So I told my close friends about the journey I was going through and shared the good and bad experiences together. It was really important to me in the beginning not to force any pronouns on people, looking back I did that to protect myself. It was easier being misgendered if I didn't ask, otherwise I was scared I would get obsessive about it. So I told my friends that when it came out naturally for them, I would like them to use he/him. This was a slow process that took months, but slowly my life changed, and one day I noticed strangers referring to me as my preferred pronouns as well. And I can truly say I finally feel free and happy, and I believe in a bright future.

When talking about coming out of the closet, we usually refer to a very specific moment or moments. When it comes to discovering and coming to terms with one’s sexual identity, however, we usually talk about “coming-in process”. It is a “process” as it takes introspection, it takes reflection and, most of all, it takes time. Sometimes a lifetime. As Sara put it, Coming in was (and sometimes still is) a way longer process.I first started to realise my sexual and romantic orientation when I was around 17, but it took years to build enough confidence and self acceptance to let me come out to others. Also, the fact that the label I used to define myself changed a few years ago, forced me to "come in'' all over again, which was a bit exhausting, but also relieving in the sense that things and past experiences finally made way more sense. Also, I was raised in a pretty queerphobic environment, so self acceptance wasn't automatic at all. I needed (and sometimes still need) to overcome a good deal of internalised homophobia and aphobia before being able to even use the words "lesbian" or "asexual" out loud.When asked which, between the coming in process and the coming out moments, had felt more powerful to her, Sara replied:They are two different and separate journeys. Maybe the most powerful experience was to allow myself at some point to stop focusing on labels so much and let my own experience go with the flow, not trying to force it into a box in order for it to be more adherent to some definition. In this sense, the use of the word queer was very powerful and somehow liberating, also from self- and others' judgement.We asked Asker the same question:[Coming out to] Myself [felt more powerful]. Coming out to others felt like a duty, something we needed to discuss. Whereas coming out to myself was a life changing moment, a step further towards accepting, healing and loving myself.One of the reasons it took me so many years to begin my transition was that I was struggling accepting it myself. I was already struggling with social anxiety, as it felt in many ways like the feminine role I was playing was like a shield, protecting me from the world. Therefore I needed to work on myself before I had the energy and room to allow this suppressed part of my identity and all the pain along with it. Despite this it was still the best thing I ever did to myself.Asker mentioned that “coming out to others felt like a duty”. This is very common in the queer community. People often feel the pressure to come out coming from either society or even the LGBTQIA+ community itself. Sometimes, the pressure also comes from within. In Sara’s words,[I’ve] Sometimes [felt pressured to come out]. But it's been more a sort of internal pressure, a push to be true to myself and to stop “lying by omission”. Also there is a level of sense of responsibility towards the community, so to use the coming out process to "normalise" the experience, or let other people know that I'm a safe person to come out to.It must be noted that both interviewees are very active in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, so the sense of responsibility they feel towards the community might be particularly preponderant. It is also true and objective, however, that the political discourse in the movement puts a lot of focus on the relevance of coming out as a political action — this focus can oftentime turn into actual, excessive pressure.
Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that coming out is a personal choice and everyone must do so if, when and how they feel like. Some people might not be enticed by the idea of coming out, for whatever reason. Some people don’t like labels. And, lastly, for some people there isn’t even much room for a choice: coming out is not an option in many countries or social environments.
In Sara’s case, her own perspective on the importance of coming out shifted throughout her life:I thought it was more [important] when I was younger, and I saw that as the only emancipation tool I had at disposal; but should I come back now, for example, I'm not sure I would come out to my family again, because things were really rough for a few years after that, and it wasn't very nice for me, also in terms of self acceptance. On a "public" level, though, I think that visibility is crucial: had I had more examples of happy, healthy queer relationships when I grew up, maybe my life could have been easier; so I take as sort of my responsibility towards my community to contribute to that. I am well aware, however, that I can afford that because I live in a privileged context, where I can be visible without concretely risking incarceration or even my life, as happens in other parts of the world. In this sense, I feel the responsibility to use my privilege to try and make things easier for everyone.And, lastly, here’s Asker’s take on it:I know many people in the community for whom coming out is important. And for many, my way would not be the right one. I practice in the community to introduce myself with my pronouns. Not because it is important to me anymore, but I would like to create a safe space where everyone feels welcome and included.

So, in conclusion, here’s “coming out” in a nutshell: some people want to do it, some people don’t want to do it, some people would like to but know that it would be dangerous for them to. Coming out is a very personal issue and everyone experiences it in their own, unique way. People do not owe you their identity, even if you are ready to accept it. Don’t push people out of the closet, but leave the door unlocked and make the room comfortable for when they do come out.

Authors:
Federica Vendrame
Martina Cappai


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web page and all its content reflects the views only of the author and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.