Dignity Project lawmakers sue governor over gender perspective curriculum

By The Star Staff

Dignity Project legislators sued Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Thursday to challenge the constitutionality of Executive Order 2021-013, which would implement a gender perspective curriculum in Puerto Rico’s public education system.

Sen. Joanne Rodríguez Veve and Rep. Lisie Burgos Muñiz argued that Executive Order 2021-013, as well as Executive Order 2020-078, declared by former Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced and adopted by Pierluisi, “configured an executive action that exceeds the constitutionally delegated powers of the Executive Branch in ordering the implementation of a gender perspective curriculum throughout the public education system through coeducational schools.”

The lawsuit was opposed by gay rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano, who criticized the lawmakers’ action in written remarks.

“The state has the right to educate boys and girls in accordance with the right to equality and the inalienable dignity of all human beings promulgated in the [Puerto Rico] Constitution,” he said.

A gender equality perspective strives to extend to women the same rights and privileges that men have through identifying areas of unequal treatment and eliminating them.

The lawmakers, however, said the executive order “usurps the prerogatives of the Legislative Assembly established in Act 62-2017.”

Executive Order 2021-013 of Jan. 25, 2021 decreed a state of emergency due to a sharp rise in the number of gender violence cases in Puerto Rico.

In the order, Pierluisi said his administration is committed to “establishing a process to develop a gender perspective curriculum that helps combat the causes that contribute to inequality, discrimination and violence.”

The legislators said Pierluisi’s order kept the provisions of Executive Order 2020-078 in force, through which the Department of Education was ordered to extend to the entire school system the model of specialized coeducational schools implemented as a pilot project through Act 62-2017 by the August 2021 semester with the goal of promoting “gender equality to prevent discrimination between women and men, eliminate stereotypes and fight against gender violence.”

The model of coeducational schools to evaluate curricular strategies for combating gender violence was a project promoted by the island Legislature through the approval of Act 62-2017.

“However, the Legislative Assembly was clear and specific regarding the process of implementation and analysis of the effectiveness of this type of education prior to expanding it through all public educational institutions on the island,” the lawsuit states.

The lawmakers are seeking that the government be “ordered to cease and desist from all and any effort aimed at producing the observance and execution of the normative contents of Executive Order-2020-078 and 2021-013 in everything related to the implementation of a curriculum with a gender perspective in the public education system through coeducational schools.”

In addition, they want “the Governor of Puerto Rico and the Secretary of the Department of Education to be ordered to comply with Act 62-2017,” the document states.

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