School is not the place for sexuality to be on display, implicitly or explicitly.
That was the stern response issued Thursday by President of the National Council of Parent Teacher Associations Shone Gibbs to a call made by the Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals against Discrimination (B-GLAD) for educators to be tolerant of students who may be attracted to the same sex.
Arguing that these pupils should be allowed to express their attractions to each other as freely as their heterosexual counterparts, BGLAD’s President Donnya Piggott, in her contribution to Wednesday’s Global Shapers panel on national issues, said she was concerned that much to the detriment of many young people, schools in Barbados continued to mirror society’s discrimination of alternative lifestyles.
“I am not talking about having sex in school because this is wrong. But I am talking about being able to hold hands, having crushes,” Piggott explained.
However, Gibbs was adamant that school was no place for sexuality of any kind to be on show.
He also questioned the perceived need by BGLAD for educators to be more accommodating.
“There is no hassle involved, there is no difficulty in our system for persons to represent who they feel they are. So I don’t know what is more accommodating. What I will say is that schools are not for, or they don’t cater to, the open expressions of sexuality or sexual preferences, so to make accommodations for gays and lesbians is a no no. Sorry!
“We are dealing with education centres that have a purpose,” he added.
Gibbs also argued that Government had a responsibility to protect the vulnerable and the young.
“I see persons who are impressionable as persons who are also vulnerable. We must protect those young minds and make sure that they are fed based on societal norms and practices and the values that we as a Christian society hold dear. That is most important,” he stressed.
In response to Piggott’s claim that there were concerted efforts to ensure that no LGBT teachers were allowed in the classroom, Gibbs emphasized that professional teachers should never put their sexual preferences on display.
“. . . that should not be an issue. If a teacher is as professional as they should be, their sexual preferences or their choice of their life sexually should not be on display. So it should not be a problem,” Gibbs added.