Governor expects gender perspective in public education system
Tells opponents to ‘focus on the curriculum, not on the term’
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
As the island faces what many see as a rising gender violence emergency with another two femicides occurring over the weekend, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Monday he is waiting for the Committee for Gender Violence Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education (PARE by its Spanish acronym) to submit a “timely recommendation” to establish a gender perspective curriculum in Puerto Rico’s system of public instruction.
During a press conference at La Fortaleza, the governor said that incorporating such a perspective, which seeks an education system that tackles issues such as gender inequality and bigotry against LGBTQ+ communities, would be one of the tools needed in the fight against gender violence in Puerto Rico. He said the island faces “a macho violence that comes from yesteryear.”
“My personal wish is for this to happen, for this to begin, as of August, when face-to-face education is resumed in our public system, assuming that the [COVID-19] pandemic will be under control at that time,” Pierluisi said.
When asked about how he would defend teaching with a gender perspective against naysayers who claim that such a pedagogical vision is actually the imposition of an ideology or an agenda upon the island school system, the governor urged opponents of the gender perspective in education to “focus on the curriculum, and not on the term.”
“This is not a question of ideology, this is a question of ensuring that there is no discrimination here for any reason, including sexual orientation and gender identity, to encourage that we all treat each other with respect, to promote equality of all human beings,” he said.
Pierluisi said people must also “focus on goals, not on labels,” pointing out that opponents “reject it outright without doing any analysis.”
“What we have to do is to promote that our children and youth learn that we are equal,” the governor said.
When asked if the opposition to this educational perspective comes from misogyny, Pierluisi said it does. He insisted that the island’s gender violence issue must be handled “from a multifactorial standpoint.”
“We have to see everything through a holistic viewpoint, and that is why the PARE Committee exists, that is why there are multiple organizations that represent gender violence victims that are supporting me,” he said.
Moreover, he said, the integration of the gender perspective in public education is necessary for Puerto Rico’s ability to tackle gender violence through a positive and problem-solving attitude.
During the conference, at which the governor was joined by public officials such as Women’s Advocate Lersy Boria Vizcarrondo and PARE Committee Compliance Officer Ileana Espada, Pierluisi also urged islanders “to remain alert and raise their voices, individually and collectively, and thus ensure that we are all part of eradicating the cycles of sexist and discriminatory violence that unfortunately exist in our beloved Puerto Rico.”