As part of the city government of Manila’s initiative to promote gender sensitivity in the academe, Mayor Joseph Estrada has unveiled plans to construct what he calls a “gender-friendly” school building at the city-run Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
Estrada’s move came in the heels of the recent installation of gender-neutral restrooms at the public-funded university for the use of students, teachers, school personnel, and visitors belonging to the LGBT community.
“It is my firm principle that everyone should be given equal rights and opportunities regardless of gender. With this gender-friendly facility, we will help promote gender equality not only in the school campus but also in Manila and the rest of the country,” Estrada said during the blessing and turnover of the newly built P250-million Gusaling Emilio Ejercito, Sr. building at the PLM grounds recently.
After the formal turnover ceremonies, Estrada also led the groundbreaking ceremonies for the planned Center for Gender Equality-Early Childhood Care and Development opposite the new building named after his father.
An advocate of granting equal rights to members of the third sex, Estrada said it is his wish that PLM, as well as the City of Manila, will become one of the pioneering forces in the campaign to end the discrimination and harassment of LGBT students in the school campuses.
“Regardless of sexual orientation, everyone, every student, has the right to quality education, and here at PLM, we will give them that,” Estrada said.
PLM president Leonora De Jesus said the Center for Gender Equality-ECCD will offer or serve as venue for special courses and trainings on gender sensitivity and childcare.
The building, she described, will “mirror” the newly built Gusaling Emilio Ejercito, Sr. that has 12 classrooms, four general laboratories, a state-of-the-art audio-visual room, and unisex toilets, among others.
“We intend to bid it out within the year and expect its completion maybe early next year,” De Jesus said of the Center for Gender Equality-ECCD project.
As with the Gusaling Emilio Ejercito, Sr., De Jesus said it was Estrada’s idea to put up single-occupancy, gender-neutral toilets – two for each floor – at the three-storey building.
“Because of our respect to the LGBT community, PLM has constructed LGBT restrooms, which means that anyone, regardless of sex, can use this facility without worrying about being harassed in the men’s or ladies’ room,” De Jesus said.
De Jesus bared she has received complaints from some LGBT students who were bullied by fellow students when using either the men’s or women’s toilets at the school campus.
De Jesus expressed her gratitude to Estrada whom she said is the only city mayor “who has given the most support to PLM.”
Estrada, she pointed out, increased the university’s annual budget from P200 million to up to P440 million, excluding the multi-million-peso infrastructure projects, subsidies, technology updates, and other support such as free shuttle buses and Wi-Fi for the students and free subscription to E-journals and E-books worldwide.
Through Estrada’s support, PLM ranked first in medicine in 2016 and is now the best school for Physical Therapy and nursing courses, fourth in architecture and law, and has repeatedly topped engineering board examinations nationwide, according to De Jesus.
With a present population of 10,000 students, PLM was established on June 19, 1965 as a tuition-free local university. It has been known as the first tertiary-level institution in the country to offer tuition-free education, and the first university funded solely by a city government.