Czech Republic promotes gay tolerance in schools | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 27.02.2010
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Europe

Czech Republic promotes gay tolerance in schools

The Czech government has taken its battle against homophobia to school classrooms in an effort aimed at raising awareness of homosexuality and the problem of bullying based on sexual orientation.

A giant multicolor flag is carried by marchers during a gay rights parade

Czech students are to be taught the ills of homophobia

As part of the project, a new handbook is being distributed to primary and secondary school teachers called "Homophobia in Schools." The government council behind the handbook says it wants teachers to be better able to recognize homophobia - and to do something about it.

For many children and young adults, juvenile name-calling is a normal part of adolescence, but some believe it should be clearly put into context by teachers.

Lucie Otahalova, head of the Government Council for Human Rights, said the role of teachers should be to encourage discussion on homosexuality in an effort to combat discrimination.

"We want to give the handbook to these teachers, so they know what homophobia is, what types of students are the perpetrators, what types of students are the victims, and how to solve the problem," she said.

According to Otahalova, the decision to publish the handbook was partly motivated by surveys showing that up to 75 percent of male pupils in the Czech Republic had negative attitudes towards gays and lesbians.

A fact of life

Two women participate in a gay pride parade

Urban areas are more accepting of same-sex couples

Students at the progressive, cosmopolitan Londynska primary school in Prague appeared to be more open-minded.

"We sometimes say, 'you are gay,' but we don't really mean it in the real meaning," said one young boy. "I don't know any and I think they are a little bit funny, but they are only people so I don't know why to discriminate against them."

A young girl said she had nothing against homosexuality: "I like these people! They're only people, and I don't have a problem with them."

The deputy head of the Londynska school, Vaclav Nadvornik, agreed that schools should accept homosexuality as a fact of life, adding that the government booklet would be of great benefit - unless the literature ends up filed away with every other publication the government sends out to schools.

"The way children are educated about (homosexual people) depends on the personality of the teacher," he says. "The government can do nothing about it."

Author: Rob Cameron/dfm

Editor: Toma Tasovac

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