Electronic diaries in hundreds of Lithuanian schools now display “Parent I” or “Parent II” entries where they used to be “mother” and “father”. This comes after the same initiative for kindergartens was abolished over public outrage.
The change in family ways has popped up in the Lithuanian system of electronic school diaries which are filled in by the form master.
The Parent I / II initiative was first introduced in Lithuania by the mayor’s office in the capital, Vilnius, where parents registering their children to kindergartens were forced to fill the relevant entries in the official form. The initiative provoked a debate.
“I just cannot make out which entry I belong to and just which I am: Parent One or Parent Two,” a mother told the Lithuanian news outlet Delfi at the time.
Also, some feminist groups declared the entries for all-women alliances should rather be Mother I and Mother II.
The media scandal that followed the Vilnius Mayor’s office initiative, forced bureaucrats to give up their plans regarding ‘Parent I’ and ‘Parent II’ entries in kindergarten documents. Still, it appears to have resurfaced in schools.
The electronic diaries system, already introduced in around 500 Lithuanian schools, is being administrated by the company Tavo Mokykla. The head of the company, Viktorija Burinskaitė, said the change was implemented in the new version of the diary. ‘Mother’ and ‘father’ columns might return to the final version of the program, she said.
The initiative, though following an EU draft bill, is seen by some as an assault on the traditional family.
“A marriage of a man and a woman growing children is more natural for us,” said a member of the Lithuanian Parents Forum, Renaldas Janciauskas. “We do not blame a union of the same-sex people, which might appear a norm for sexual minorities. The question is whether gay couples could actually force their perception on society.”
The issue first flared up in 2010, when the Council of Europe issued a recommendation for EU member states to exclude words “mother” and "father" from the official documents as a manifestation of sexism.
Yet, on December 10, 2013, Lithuania's Parliament urged the European Parliament to reject a draft resolution on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights submitted by MEP Edite Estrela, as “harmful to European traditions, law and morality,” the Baltic Times reported.
This resolution promoted sex education to four-year-old children, proclaimed abortion a fundamental right and attacked the rights of parents, calling on the EU to fund abortions through Foreign and Development Aid Policy.
The Lithuanian Seimas expressed deep concern about the bill, with the support of 66 MPs (14 MPs voted against with 8 abstentions), saying that MEP Edite Estrela’s bill “poses a threat to the constitutional conception of family, constitutional rights and duties of parents to raise their children as honest people”.
“Sexual education of children is a very important factor in formation of personality; however, family is the main social institution and its right to raise and educate children must be widely acknowledged, while this process is an integral part of the free will and responsibility of parents,” the Lithuanian Seimas stated at the time.