Textbooks violate laws

Textbooks violate laws

In the Belgrade Media Center the results of the research of discriminatory content in high school textbooks presented. The participants stressed that the results show an unchanged condition of the treatment of same-sex orientation in textbooks. Discriminatory content is reflected through pathologisation and explicit support to unscientific, negative stereotypes, which are in violation of the Constitution and six laws of the Republic of Serbia.

BELGRADE, July 31st, 2014 - At a press conference held in the Belgrade Media Center, the organization for lesbian human rights LABRIS presented to the public the brochure "Same-sex orientation in high school textbooks". Based on data collected by analyzing the content of textbooks, the research contains detailed conclusions and recommendations for the Ministry of Education, with a special emphasis on the importance of proper, scientifically based education for the development of the society and also on the violation of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Serbia.

The conclusions and recommendations as well as the legal aspect of this very important project, spoke: Aleksandra Gavrilović, the project coordinator, LABRIS; Mina Damnjanović, author of the research; Zorica Mršević, PhD, legal expert; Emila Spasojević, a representative of the Office of the Commissioner for Equality; Borjana Peruničić, representative of the Office for Human and Minority Rights.

It was pointed out at the conference that the need for such analysis rose from a general social climate in Serbia, which implies a high degree of intolerance, homophobia, discrimination and even violence against persons who are not exclusively heterosexual. Education as one of the key factors in the transmission of the value system of a society must not transfer and propagate unscientific, exclusive content based on stereotypes.

Results of the analysis indicate the unchanged state of treatment of the same-sex orientation in high school textbooks, and discriminatory content is observed through pathologization of any sexual orientation other than heterosexual, as well as through supporting the negative prejudice in textbooks in the field of biology, psychology and medicine.

Speaking about the legal aspect of the explicit discriminatory content in high school textbooks, Zorica Mršević, PhD, legal expert, pointed out:

"As long as the textbooks keep presenting homosexuality as a social deviation, as prostitution, juvenile pregnancy, etc., we will have a problem with a totally unscientific, misconceptions that "educate" new generations in a homophobic manner," said Mršević and added: "In the educational system we have a presence of unscientific, unfair and homophobic representation of the same-sex orientation and non binary gender identity, which gives the explicit and implicit "green light" to discrimination against the LGBT persons. "

It is also highlighted that the content in textbooks and teaching aids constitutes hate speech, which is recognized by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and a number of laws in Serbia, which is not applied in practice, including:

1. Anti- discrimination Law;
2. Law on Textbooks and Other Teaching Aids
3. The Law on the Foundations of the Education System
4. The Law on Secondary Schools
5. The Law on Youth
6. Gender Equality Law

In addition to presenting the results of the analysis and the legal aspects of the existence of discriminatory content, recommendations for correction and change of content in accordance with the applicable legal framework and practice in developed societies was presented.

The general recommendation for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development refers to the removal of discriminatory content from teaching materials and practices as well as the promotion of respect for human rights through harmonization with the developments and achievements of science.