Primary school children in France will be taught lessons on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues under new government plans to tackle homophobia.
The country's Minister for Women's Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkace, unveiled the proposals yesterday (31 October), confirming that the Education Ministry was looking at ways to combat the rise of gay teen suicides which result from homophobic bullying in schools.
France has pledged to become a 'world leader in the fight against homophobia' and the government's announcement has been welcomed by campaigners.
Daniel Labaquere, National Secretary for the SNUiip teachers’ union, told France 24 that the government was 'finally acting, not just making promises.'
He added that the move to introduce lessons on gay issues was needed to end anti-gay discrimination and prejudice in schools, where the use of the offensive word 'pédé' is still a common playground taunt.
Labaquere claims the term leads to children feeling stigmatized and inferior.
However, he insists changes to the curriculum would not mean the promotion of homosexuality or a focus on sex. Rather, it will be about teaching children the importance of relationships and love.
'This is all about teaching children to respect each other regardless of their backgrounds,' he said.
'It’s exactly the same as dealing with the kind of ignorance that leads to children being bullied for wearing glasses or for being fat.'
Other measures to tackle homophobia announced in the proposals include improving training of police officers, giving transgender people more legal recognition and allowing same-sex parents greater rights such as access to medical treatments such as IVF.