• The San Juan Daily Star

Gender perspective implementation in public schools slated for next January

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Amid heavy and misinformed campaigns against implementing a gender perspective in Puerto Rico’s public education system, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi told the STAR on Tuesday that the new approach won’t be going into effect until the next academic semester in January.

During a press conference held at the Gov. Pedro Rosselló Convention Center in Miramar, Pierluisi told the newspaper that the Prevention, Support, Rescue, and Education (PARE by its Spanish acronym) Committee is expected to commence training of personnel from the Department of Education during the semester that begins today.

He added that the committee plans changes in the agency’s teaching curriculum, and will later share them with the general school community.

When he referred to the school community, the governor emphasized “teachers and parents from all educational regions in Puerto Rico.”

When the STAR asked when will the administration be releasing the academic sources to be assigned for the new curriculum in the face of ultraconservative organizations protesting against it and the island facing an increase in gender and sexual violence, Pierluisi said “there has been too much misinformation.”

He said he has released a column in a local news outlet defending the application of the gender perspective.

“This curriculum does not seek to promote any ideologies, nor does it aim to speak about sexuality,” Pierluisi said. “What this curriculum is about, according to the definition of the concept that we intend to implement, is to promote respect and equality among people.”

“That is what I always wanted to promote, not only in schools but also across Puerto Rico,” he added. “That is what I want, for that culture to reign in Puerto Rico, and we can teach that in schools with all due respect.”

The governor went on to say that he wants the process for implementing the educational vision supported by the United Nations to be transparent in order for both teachers and parents to be more clear on what the perspective seeks to accomplish, and to keep calm.

“Through the published column, I recognized that the Executive Reform, which applies to the Department of Education, gives parents the last word on what the system would teach their offspring,” he said. “This is why transparency is important, that those curriculums get released; we don’t seek to enforce any ideologies or speak about sexuality, that’s not the purpose.”

“Everyone is free to speak, no matter where they come from or what they think,” he added. “There must be openness for all.”

When The STAR asked how to deal with misinformation in the middle of a gender violence emergency and efforts to stem such violence, he emphasized that tackling it “is a full-time, 24/7 job.”

“We don’t want violence in Puerto Rico, we don’t want discrimination either,” he said. “Puerto Rico should be inclusive; there is space for everyone. This is not about treating boys and girls differently, this is more about treating both equally.”

The governor made his statements after Pro-Life and Family Coalition President Mario Rosario spoke the previous day on a local political analysis program against implementing the gender perspective in the education system.

When asked on how to deal with murders and violence against LGBQT+ residents, he said that such events would happen because there have been men who were “deceived” because they believed they were “in front of a woman.”

On Saturday, ultraconservatives, alongside local religious organizations, marched to La Fortaleza to protest the so-called “gender dictatorship,” a term coined by a former ultraconservative judge in Spain, Francisco de Asis Serrano Castro, who is now an active member of the VOX Party, a far-right movement founded in 2014 by Santiago Abascal, a former member of Spain’s conservative Popular Party.

The VOX Party, which became the third force in the Spanish parliament in 2019 by winning 52 out of 350 seats, has been criticized for its anti-immigrant, populist, anti-Islam, anti-abortion, and homophobic postures.

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