Gender and sex identity and the controversy over students’ textbooks

According to the new biology syllabus for eighth grade, students are studying in the new textbooks for the second year running, but only now have some become annoyed at what is written in the books of some publishers in the lessons on sex and gender identity.

The Dveri Movement, i.e. its Council for Education and Science, has recently severely criticized biology textbooks, published by Klett and Vulkan, that were accused of spreading homosexuality and transgender propaganda to minors.

“Did anyone from the Institute for the Improvement of Education and Education (ZUOV) or the Ministry of Education review the textbooks before they were approved, i.e. before they were released to the press and entered the educational curriculum?” If not, why not? If yes, who is responsible for the propaganda of homosexuality and transgenderism to minors, i.e. students?” the Dveri Movement asked.

Although the curriculum for eighth-grade biology was written by the ZUOV itself, together with a committee that included representatives of the Faculty of Biology, the National Council for Education (NPS) gave a positive opinion on the curriculum, which was then adopted by the Ministry of Education and published in 2019, at the time when Mladen Šarčević was the Education Minister. The current Education Minister, Branko Ružić, is now calling for a revision of part of the biology curriculum.

“I completely understand and support the need to teach children tolerance and mutual respect, understanding differences and accepting them, but it has to be on the basis of recognised scientific theories and in accordance with the policies of the country in which we live,” the Ministry of Education said. It is symptomatic that the reaction of Dveri and part of the nationalistically oriented media comes at a time when the decision on whether Europride should take place is awaited.

The biology textbooks for the eighth grade were also under severe scrutiny in March last year, at a time of a false media uproar about the content of school curricula and history books on the Jasenovac concentration camp, but also in the midst of the debate on the homosexual unions law. Some media outlets were annoyed by the fact that one of the biology textbooks made a distinction between sex and gender, stating that, for some people, sex and gender are not the same, that young people sometimes question their gender identity during adolescence, and that there are people who consider themselves gender-neutral.

The new eighth-grade curriculum was published in 2019, to be used during the school year 2021/22. The critics of this syllabus doubt that by the end of the eighth grade, the students “will be able to connect the changes that occur during puberty to hormonal changes.”

The critics also doubt the following statement found in the syllabus’ instructions – “in the elaboration of sexual and gender identity, and in addition to developing tolerance and acceptance of diversity, students should have a broader perspective of genetic variability as a natural phenomenon, which does not create prerequisites for prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination and violence.”

(Danas, 13.09.2022)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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