Brazil’s Minister of Education, Fernando Haddad, continues to defy President Dilma insisting once again to introduce “Kit Gay2” into the curriculum of public schools. His claim that the material is directed to the laudable goal of reducing prejudice within the school system, however, has a hollow ring to it.
The fact is that if the true aim were to attack prejudice, why then did he not create a program that dealt with prejudice in all its various forms, discrimination based on color, race, religion, age and physical handicaps, but rather only homosexuality? The material itself is clearly not intended to reduce discrimination against lifestyle choices, but rather to promote homosexuality and alternative lifestyles as not only natural, but also desirable.
I am against prejudice in any form and am as offended by homophobia as anyone, but this material is yet more offensive to me as an educator. While I firmly believe that basic sex education is an absolutely necessary element in the educational system in order to help reduce teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases; it should not deal solely with the issues of sexuality or lifestyle choice! This is a subject that is not within the domain of the educational system, but one which is rightfully exclusive to parents. The same way that schools do not (or should not) try to influence the religious beliefs of children out of respect to the parents’ beliefs and their absolute right to instill those values in their children, it should likewise not deal with the issues of sexuality and alternative lifestyles as part of the curriculum – it is not the place of the school to usurp this parental authority. I believe that there is an underlying motive behind Haddad’s insistence on introducing the material, one far more sinister and one that he is not admitting. Certainly, he cannot be defying the President of the Republic simply to prove he is more powerful or more important.
Also the material is not really all that necessary. Brazil is a country that, while some prejudice still exists, not only accepts but also celebrates alternative lifestyles. One need only think about the size of Gay Pride parades in every major city in Brazil and the fact that the mayors of each of those cities makes a point in participating in the event. Brazilian television portrays lifestyle choices as completely normal and also tends to celebrate them. If you watch Brazilian television you will already know that every variety show and reality show has at least one person participating who is gay, lesbian, cross-dresser or transsexual. Most of the novellas, in fact, usually have more than one character representing these groups. Oddly, they don’t all see fit to include more individuals with physical or mental handicaps as frequently. Brazilian schoolchildren are thus exposed to alternative lifestyles on a daily basis, it is neither something new to them nor do they see it as something uncommon. This fact alone causes me to wonder why the Minister feels there is this burning need to deal with it in the schools especially when the vast majority of Brazilian parents strongly oppose its inclusion.
If Haddad had developed a program that attacked all forms of prejudice and lifestyle choice was simply a small part of that program (and less explicit than the current material) it would probably have been less objectionable. It is also clear that if would probably be much more beneficial. Personally, I think there is a much more urgent need for courses that deal with anger management, violence, bullying and sexual or physical abuse within the school system than there is for “Kit Gay2”.
Haddad would do better to expend more effort in avoiding the past controversies in which he has involved himself, to making sure that textbooks are more error-free and to improving the security measures surrounding the ENEM which has been a source of problems since its inception with continual leaks of test questions prior to the application of the test every year. And this is the man who wants to be the next mayor of São Paulo? God help us all!
Writer’s note: This posting is based on my personal opinion and 24 years experience as an educator, also on my experience over many years of being a very participating father and primary caregiver to my 4 (now adult) children in Canada and an active participant in the life of my 4 year old Brazilian born son. I recognize the fact that everyone has the right to form and express their own opinions, even those that may be in complete opposition to those expressed here. You are invited to add to this posting to express your own opinions whatever they may be and to expand on the reasons why you hold them. Please do other posters the courtesy of allowing them to do the same without any attacks on their opinions or insults against their person. It is the intention of this posting to solicit an open dialog on the subject. Abusive remarks directed toward any individual adding to this posting will immediately be reported to the administration of Expat-Blog with a request to delete same and to take whatever further action they deem appropriate.