French minister says kids must learn gay history

Women's minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said learning about gay historical figures would help stop bullying

French minister says kids must learn gay history
25 October 2012

France’s women’s rights minister has called for schools to teach about gay historical figures in an attempt to stop bullying.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who is also the Socialist government’s spokesman, said it would help French children who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity.

As reported by The Telegraph, she said: ‘Today school manuals persist in remaining silent about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual orientation of certain historical figures or authors, even when it explains a large part of their work.’

Citing 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud, she said while studying his famous love sonnet La Domeur du Val (The Sleeper In The Valley), it would be ridiculous for students to not know it was dedicated to a man.

Bruno Beschizza, the opposition right-wing Union for a Popular Movement party’s national secretary, criticized the suggestion. He said: ‘The government spokeswoman today gives herself the right to censure out children’s schoolbooks to impose her vision of the family.’

Writing on Nouvel Observateur’s website, Yves Delahaie, a secondary schoolteacher, said any self-respecting biography of Rimbaud would not ‘dream of hiding the poet’s homosexuality’, which he called a ‘cliché of French literature.’

However, he added: ‘It is not our place to posthumously "out" historical figures, if anything because they did not choose to talk about it in a public way themselves.’

As translated by The Connexion, Vallaud-Belkacem also said in the interview she supported President Francois Hollande’s attempt to universally decriminalize homosexuality by seeking a resolution in the United Nations.

She said the European Union must adopt anti-homophobia policies, and added the government would be supporting LGBT campaigners to become French ambassadors.

The minister also said she is working to stop the activities of extremist right-wing religious groups seeking to ‘cure’ gay people.

The comments come after the government announced they would be debating same-sex marriage laws on 7 November.

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