Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Dutch Schools Throw Out Gay Magazine

Furore as schools dump gay educational magazine
11 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven has launched an investigation into why dozens of secondary schools refused to accept copies of gay magazine Expreszo last week. Some schools dumped issues of the magazine in paper recycling bins because they found the contents rather than the subject shocking.
At least 400,000 copies of the gay youth magazine were distributed — partly with ministry funding — to almost every Dutch secondary school at the start of October. The initiative was designed to educate people about the problem of discrimination against gays in the education system.
But a large number of schools refused to accept the magazines, sent them back or threw them into the rubbish or recycling bins out of concern the publication would provoke
negative reactions from students and parents.
Christian schools and schools with a large migrant student body took the lead in rejecting the magazine. Many claimed it was not so-much the subject matter but the way the magazine was written made it unacceptable.
Page 8 of the magazine featured a "tolerance test". The second question asked: your little nine-year-old brother loves musicals and the song contest, what now?
The reader has a choice of answers: A) order him a glitter suit for his gay wedding; B) hang Britney Spears posters in his room and he will turn out straight; or C) drop the filthy child from the highest flat complex.
Another question asked: Your neighbour is having sex with a goat, who do you call? A) the television programme Man Bijt Hond (this is modern culture); B) the billy goat - the female goat is cheating); or C) the integration police - goat? That is what hobby chickens are for!
Another question asks the reader what he or she would want to do if leader of the Netherlands. One possible answer was Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, so the person would "sit in front of the window all day masturbating".
The magazine's publishers said some of the contents of the magazine was meant to be light-hearted, while the subject was serious.
Some schools claimed however that the supposed irony was totally inappropriate and would be completely missed by their students.
A majority of Dutch MPs are concerned about the discrimination against gay students and teachers and will discuss the issue on Tuesday.
The Liberal VVD, Labour PvdA, green-left GroenLinks and Democrat D66 parties have asked Education State Secretary Clemence Ross to allocate more funding to the issue.
Both Van der Hoeven and Ross have said they have made combating discrimination of gays and lesbians in school a priority and they want to know why the Expreszo magazines were discarded, newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported.
The government ministers have placed the responsibility on the schools themselves. But they are also demanding that the schools explain whether they are rejecting the idea of showing homosexuality in a better light or are opposed to the approach used in the magazine.
Besturenraad, the organisation of Christian education, has accused the government of acting "extremely carelessly" in assisting with the distribution of the magazine.
It said the way in which it was done was "unbelievably dumb", claiming the magazine arrived unannounced with normal post, news agency ANP reported Monday.
But magazine Editor-in-Chief Merijn Henfling had said on Saturday that "it appears again that there are still many schools where students are better off not saying they are gay", news agency Novum reported.
Henfling is keen to learn from schools how they wish to tackle the intolerance of young gays and lesbians. He said this discussion could be prompted by placing the Expreszo magazine in school canteens.
The magazine includes interviews with celebrities about their image of homosexuality, a photo page depicting gay couples kissing and a tolerance test. The magazine is now distributing gay-friendly stickers to students via its website, which recorded a quintuple increase in visitors on Sunday.

[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2004]