Education: First Step Towards Social Inclusion of LGBT people

Education: First Step Towards Social Inclusion of LGBT people

Due to generally bad social climate that can be recognized in Serbia, with a high degree of intolerance, homophobia, discrimination and even violence towards LGBT community, the need for the analysis of high school textbooks rose. Labris conducted the first textbook analysis in 2014. The analysis included textbooks in the area of biology, medicine and psychology and it confirmed the existence of discriminatory content in 9 books.

Labris has requested from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development to remove discriminatory content and adopt recommendations for affirmative treatment of different sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Both in 2015 and 2016, Labris has conntacted the Ministry of Education to verify if the agreed changes were made. The official answer was that „the content that encourages discrimination and intolerance was eliminated from the textbooks“.

However, today in 2017, three years after the analysis and the recommendations, students are still using 30-year-old textbooks, which state that homosexuality is „deviant behavior“ or „a consequence of hormone disorders“, even though the World Health Organization removed the same-sex orientation from the list of mental illnesses in 1990. The discriminatory content has only been removed from two textbooks by now, which shows that there is a way for change, but the is no will.

It is important to emphasize that discriminatory content in textbooks encourages bullying among high school students through formation of negative stereotypes and prejudices. Progress reports have already alerted about the passive attitude of the authorities towards the elimination of discrimination. The elimination of every kind of discrimination and protection of every citizen is a commitment of Serbia on its path to the EU.

This is just another example that everything is fine on paper, but in practice the situation is completely different. Serbia has a Constitution, different laws, strategies, action plans, but they are not being implemented. Changing the textbook would not solve all the problems that the LGBT community faces, but it would certainly be a big step in the right direction.