Romanian high-school heavily criticised for supporting LGBT History Month
A teacher at a high-school in Bucharest, Romania, has been heavily criticised for teaching her secondary school students about LGBT History Month. National Bilingual College “George Cosbuc” (CNBGC from now on), which I attended for three years, also has a partnership with an NGO promoting LGBT rights called Accept, and is the only educational establishment in Bucharest to do so.
In the United Kingdom, a bill just passed its first reading in the House of Commons, a bill which would legalise gay marriage should it pass into law. This bill was introduced by a Conservative Prime Minister.
Now back to Bucharest.
Students were taught about LGBT issues and why they matter during a seminar, they were told about Gay Pride demonstrations, and encouraged to participate in the school’s activities during LGBT History Month. CNBGC has students aged 11-18, so even at the lower end of the age spectrum this aspect of sexuality and society is a valid one to address – especially considering that sex ed seminars and talks do happen.
A number of unhappy parents, some NGOs, and a judge have found it fit to publicly protest against this initiative, and have written to the government and to parliament and asked for these activities to cease immediately. You can read the open letter here (in Romanian – complaints mostly based on religious grounds, “homosexuality is a sin”, “schools should be for character building not for experiments for satanic perversion of youth”). There’s now an inquiry into what should be considered a commendable initiative.
Let’s stop and think about this for a moment. Was the school wrong to acknowledge LGBT History Month? Was the teacher wrong to tell the students about Gay Pride and about the gross injustices the LGBT community faces? Romania still has a very poor record when it comes to gay rights. No official same-sex partnership is allowed, and partnerships from other countries are not recognised. Public display of affection between same-sex partners can get you a tirade of hate from strangers in the streets.
There’s still a long way to go to ensure equal rights for the LGBT community, and teaching secondary school students about equality is hugely important. They are the future employers, future teachers, colleagues and parents. CNBGC gives its students a broad, open-minded view of the world, and then encourages them to make their own choices in life. Its students graduate as well rounded adults. The same English teacher who ran this LGBT workshop has also been running public speaking classes for years and has been a valuable presence in the lives of students. She shouldn’t be criticised for showing initiative – she is only taking baby steps in catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to education.
Schools shouldn’t just teach people grammar and calculus. They should help students become functioning adults who can give something back to society. Teaching kids about LGBT History Month, Pride, feminism, discrimination, will help Romania grow into a better country. We may be in the EU but apparently we are still very far from the western mentality.
I fully support CNGBC’s initiative, and I hope the Ministry of Education will recognise the true intention behind the school’s partnership with Accept and its support of LGBT History Month. This teacher deserves a commendation, not an inquiry.
From a former student, who wouldn’t have made it without you.
Sources (in Romanian):