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French Conservatives March Against Gender Equality

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Just when I thought that the conservatives of my home country couldn’t get more ridiculous, they drop a new bomb of radiating ignorance. In France, the same people who protested against the legalisation of gay marriage — La Manif’ pour Tous — are now marching the streets to protest against the elimination of gender stereotypes in the school curriculum. That’s right, there are people in France who want teachers to tell their little girls that they belong to the kitchen and their little boys that they can’t like pink.

The French government recently launched a program called “ABCD of Equality” which is being tested in 10 regions. This program is part of the Convention for Equality Between Boys and Girls and is included within the curriculum of children aged between five and eleven years old. Aimed to deconstruct stereotypes within the educational setting, the ABCD’s purpose is to communicate to girls and boys that their sex does not determine their taste, their future career or their role in society. This is done through simple debates, triggered by questions that the teacher asks, such as “Can a girl play football?” “Can a boy be a ballet dancer?”

Members of La Manif pour Tous marching the streets of Paris, February 2. The sign reads "Gender is not my kind of thing."

Members of La Manif pour Tous marching the streets of Paris, February 2. The sign reads “Gender is not my kind of thing.”

At the end of last month, a rumour spread among parents via text messages that schools were teaching gender theory to their children, in a move to erase gender boundaries and encourage homosexuality. Not only was this rumour completely false – there is no gender theory taught at school, only the ABCD of Equality – it also took ridiculous proportions, leading parents to boycott school days on two occasions at the end of January. To follow the instructions from a chain text message and refrain your kids from going to school to protect them from a teaching that doesn’t exist? This might be the most overwhelmingly stupid thing I have ever heard.

Although the government made it clear that there was no such thing as gender theory teachings at school, followers of La Manif’ pour Tous keep on protesting against the ABCD of Equality, claiming that it leads to a systematic destruction of the traditional family. They argue that the ABCD of Equality aims to deny differences between men and women, unavoidably leading to a promotion of homosexuality and the destruction of the heterosexual model of the “natural family.” They accuse the Secretary of Education of instilling a vicious ideology to their children.

French minister of education Vincent Peillon dismissed those accusations, stating that “in recognizing the biological differences, we still want to have equality between women and men within our society, especially in terms of career choices.” In a short video clip explaining the different steps of the Convention for Equality between Girls and Boys, the government sought to highlight the importance of education in this process. For this reason, the ABCD of Equality was created so that “school contributes to the diminution of a sexual-based division of roles within the French society.”

I fail to understand how anyone with a brain could protest against teaching to children that they are equal regardless of their gender. More than immensely stupid, the reaction of those who rose against the ABCD of Equality appears to me as a danger to the French democracy.

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