A social activist is calling on Barbadians to stipulate that the Ministry of Education Technology and Vocational Training (METVT) remove gender neutrality as one of its core values in the National Grooming Policy.
In a release to the media, Dave Weekes, who is also a filmmaker and part of the management of Praise Academy, says the inclusion, with no input from the public on “our children”, is another sign of “disrespect” by METVT in the wake of the survey administered by the Inter-American Development Bank.
The National Grooming Policy came into effect this Hilary Term and sets out the guidelines for dress and deportment across Government nursery, primary and secondary schools.
Dave Weekes (FILE)
The Ministry’s core values have been listed as integrity, personal identity, respect, cultural diversity, courtesy, discipline, gender neutrality and responsibility.
“However the one value that I struggle to understand], its bearing within the schools system, is “Gender Neutrality”. Since when does identifying a person as male, female or otherwise become a core value of education? What exactly are we aiming to educate our children about?” Weekes queried.
He added, in a society where the majority of the people believe in the core principle, that God made male and female, “how can METVT come and ordain a new value stating the exact opposite i.e. a human can identify as neither male nor female”?.
“Is METVT going beyond suggesting but mandating as a “core value” to our children that they can be either male, female or neither and possibly gender fluid? This sounds like a travesty and a down-right insult to the many Christians, Rastafarians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and other faith-based persons in our nation, where their belief systems are being trampled. This instantly violates core principles of respect, integrity and courtesy, and is again rather irresponsible as was the Computer Pre-Test. Discipline would have caused the METVT to take the time to run this by the people it claims to care so much about,” Weekes said.
He further stated: “As we evolve, let us not cut the very branch on which we are sitting. Let us not abandon our God and our faith for the creations and ideologies of man inspired by a very real devil.”
Principals and teachers have also called for clarification on the use of the term.
One senior teacher told The Daily Nation they were clueless on how to deal with a male who turned up with weave in his hair or wearing a skirt.
General secretary of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Herbert Gittens, who is also principal of Wesley Hall Primary, said he needed to educate himself.
“Nothing in the discussion with the ministry spoke about going in that direction as far as the policy is concerned, so I would have to look to see if that says more than what people are reading into it,” he said I today’s edition. (SAT)