Over 80,000 people in southern Germany have signed an online petition against a plan to teach children about LGBT lifestyles in school – an initiative put forward to promote tolerance towards sexual minorities.
A new education plan, which should come into force in 2015, has sparked a bitter dispute in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the southwest of the country.
Thousands of parents and teachers strongly oppose the idea put forward by the ruling regional Green/SPD coalition, which calls for including the aim “acceptance of sexual diversity” in the school curriculum, so that children are told about different relationships and lifestyles.
Supporters believe the idea will help to prevent discrimination and make society more open and tolerant, while opponents claim it would actively promote “the ideology of rainbow,” cites The Local.
An online petition against the reform addressed to the Ministry of Culture has already gathered over 82,000 signatures, with the number of supporters growing rapidly.
The document, launched by a teacher, an activist in the Christian community, demands that children get “responsible” sexual education in schools, with no overemphasis on individual groups and their interests, and no “promotion” of new sexual morality.
The critics of the plan also insist that sexual education should be based on scientific principles and take place in biology rather than social studies classes. The text critizes the proposal for its failure to reflect the negative sides of the LGBT-lifestyle, such as “a higher risk of suicide among gay youth,” and high rate of HIV infection among homosexuals.
One of the signees to the petition notes in their comments that “there are many homosexuals among politicians, actors, and sportsmen” and all of them are treated with tolerance, but once the topic is discussed “continuously”, it becomes “annoying” and might give one an impression that “it is advantageous and desirable to be a gay.” Another one adds that teachers must not be forced to teach children what their parents do not want them to be taught.
They hope the regional parliament will take the petition into account when they begin debates on the culture ministry's initiative to include “acceptance of sexual diversity” in the education plan.
Meanwhile, initiators of the plan accused the opponents of “shocking homophobia”.
“The current online petition contains a spirit of severe intolerance,” SPD regional education expert, Stefan Fulst-Blei, told local media.
Supporters of the new education plan have also been actively participating in the online dispute. Explaining why they will not sign the petition, one of its critics observed that one day – despite considerable resistance – children were taught that the Earth was round.
“Now it is time to explain to them that homosexuality exists on our planet and it is no longer seen as morbid,” the person said, adding that this has nothing to do with overemphasis, but is simply knowledge and a way to curb discrimination.