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Ad Hoc Marketing launches ‘Graduation Rights: March with Pride’ with QC Government for LGBTQIA+ students

QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES — A total of 394 students from the LGBTQIA+ community proudly participated in “Graduation Rights: March with Pride” at QCX Quezon Memorial Circle last June 22, marking a significant event during Pride Month. 

Committed to developing creatively effective campaigns for the greater good, Ad Hoc Marketing, in partnership with the Quezon City Government, launched “Graduation Rights,” a symbolic graduation ceremony allowing LGBTQIA+ students to express themselves as they are. 

The Rainbow Graduates had the full graduation experience. They received personalized diplomas, took graduation photos, heard an inspirational speech from actress, TV host, and LGBT rights advocate Kaladkaren, and applied for work at the job fair organized for them. 

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Many Rainbow Graduates had previously been denied access to graduation ceremonies. They were pressured to conform to appearances misaligned with their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and gender characteristics (SOGIESC) by their respective schools. 

This is despite the Department of Education’s memorandum recognizing the SOGIESC of teachers and students. In its Gender Responsive Basic Education Policy (No. 32, s. 2017), teachers and students are respected and allowed to dress according to their gender identity.

Graduation Rights was a powerful moment of recognition and affirmation, enabling students to celebrate and embrace their authentic selves. 

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, in her inspiring speech, stated, “Graduation rites are everyone’s rights, regardless of gender identity and expression. In Quezon City, you have the right to express your truth, no matter your SOGIESC.” 

The campaign drew inspiration from the real-life experiences of Jelai Balbaera, a transgender woman and student who also appeared in Ad Hoc’s film for PridePH, which won in the recent Kidlat Awards

Jelai was a victim in her own school and was denied her right to graduate as she is. During Graduation Rights, she shared, “Hindi daw ako pagma-martsahin kung hindi daw ako mag-comply sa hair requirement for boys. Kinailangan ko pang ipaglaban ang sarili ko bilang babae.” (“They wouldn’t let me march during graduation unless I comply with the haircut policy for boys. I had to fight for my rights to be recognized as a woman.”)

“We at Ad Hoc believe that good and actual changes must anchor on the truth — real insights from real people with real conflicts,” said Mark Blanco, Ad Hoc Chief Creative Officer. “That’s how we create work that sparks flames.”

Graduation Rights received massive media coverage, a seal of approval from the Commission on Human Rights, and the support and attendance of the Department of Education at the event.

“With Graduation Rights, I hope that this inspires other LGUs to follow suit, that schools follow the existing DepEd memo on respecting students’ SOGIESC, and for DepEd to reiterate and strictly enforce this,” shared Henson Wongaiham, Ad Hoc Co-founder and Managing Partner. “While I hope that we get to hold more Graduation Rights in the future, I also hope that this will no longer be necessary as we strive to make Philippine schools inclusive.”

Year after year, Ad Hoc has been dedicated to developing creatively effective advocacy campaigns grounded on social issues. “I hope that our ‘AdHoc-acies’ bring about real and positive change in the world,” furthered Henson. “With Graduation Rights, we’ve only just begun.”

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