Ministry of Education recalls manual that had pro-gay remarks
A relentless media campaign, launched recently to raise public awareness on the debatable content of the Peace Corps Health and Family Life Manual, has prompted the Ministry of Education to withdraw the publication from primary schools across the country. The handbook, which was first introduced to pastors Luis Wade and Scott Stirm in December 2011, stirred controversy when it was learned that the subject matters being addressed within its pages promoted what Stirm refers to as the ‘homosexual agenda’. Since then a ten-member committee was tasked to carefully review the content of the HFLE Manual and compile a report, which was subsequently presented to the Ministry of Education. That report presumably languished on a desktop somewhere within the ministry until earlier this month when Wade and Stirm took to the airwaves to ventilate the dubious text. After much objection from concerned parents, the ministry issued a release on Wednesday stating that the HFLE handbook has been retracted from the education curriculum. News Five spoke with pastors Wade and Stirm today about the manual.
Pastor Luis Wade
“In the first week of December of last year there was a Belize Action ‘Take A Stand’ rally where we brought together churches from across the nation and several organizations, including representatives from across the political parties to simply highlight the beginning of the LGBT agenda in Belize through the lawsuit. It was at that event that a teacher from Orange Walk brought a copy of the manual to me and said, “Could you please take a look at this,” and took me to page sixty-six, I believe it was, where the individual [had] already highlighted two parts that he had some issues with. I looked at it, immediately saw it for what it was and I went up on the podium and I just read briefly from the manuscript.”
“It was obvious to us, you could see a homosexual agenda that was in the manual but the general feel and overtone of the whole manual was kind of like stepping on the gas concerning sexual activity and that flies right in the face of some of the policies of the Ministry of Health and some of the others that are saying to discourage sexual activity among young people, particularly adolescents or pre-adolescents and yet here this is geared for standards four, five and six, ages nine to twelve and it’s asking questions like: how long should a couple date before having sex? If a guy pays for the date is he entitled to, you know, kissing, touching, having sex? This is to our nine and ten year olds right, and so those kinds of things just immediately started to jump out, as well as at the beginning of the manual it’s very strongly the emphasis that they are talking. They are intentionally presenting values that they know are going to fly right in the face of the parents of these children.”
“I would want to know to know what the people of the nation have to say about that. Whether or not the majority of people within this country are interested in the liberalization of our values. For a critic or an opponent or somebody to simply say, “the world is moving in this particular direction, why don’t we just get along?” The world is made up of over two hundred countries and from our experience, as we monitor the world on this particular issue, there are probably seven to ten countries, [including] Australia and Brazil, where this is a very, very hot-button issue. The other countries have made up their minds either for or against and many of them are against.”
Pastor Scott Stirm
“We’re grateful that there was a concession from the Ministry of Education on the removing of this manual and secondly, all we did was inform the people. I believe that is a very loud statement that when people start to see it for themselves, people are saying, “no we don’t want this!” So within a matter of days we had almost a thousand downloads of the manual from the Plus TV website.”
Pastor Luis Wade
“We have a responsibility to inform the people that a value that we hold highly, collectively, is being violated by a few, and I think that [that] is what this is all about. It is not about the church or Christians pushing their will on a people but simply the church telling the people that a value that we hold collectively is being violated by a few.”
“That was early December we got the manual, by the end of January we had a collective report that had been pulled together by ten different professionals and we submitted that to the Ministry of Education, the prime minister, the teachers union and so [on]. Again, I am grateful that there was a concession. I am still concerned of the fact that the whole thing was approved in the first place because that didn’t happen without approval. Maybe somebody just browsed it in that vetting process, I don’t know but we didn’t browse it. We went after every detail and it was horrendous what’s in there.”
The Ministry of Education in a press release says that the delay in taking a decision on the publication was because of the general elections.