NPTAJ and Anti-Gay Groups Want J-FLAG Kept Out of Schools
A SUGGESTION mooted by the Jamaica Forum for Lesbian, All Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) for persons from that organisation to offer counselling in schools has been met with strong resistance from the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) and anti-gay groups.
In a release to the media NPTAJ President Everton Hannam poured cold water on the suggestion made by the gay lobby. "The NPTAJ rejects totally, the offer made by J-FLAG to conduct counselling in schools," Hannam said. J-FLAG had said it is willing to help the education ministry and guidance counsellors improve their assistance to students who have problems with their sexuality. J-FLAG's offer of assistance came after news that some of the more than 800 guidance counsellors in the school system are refusing to help students identified as gay or lesbian. In a statement, the lobby group's executive director, Dane Lewis, said he is deeply concerned at the reports and is calling for the education ministry to intervene with strategies to equip counsellors to help students.
The national parent-teacher body has, however, viewed J-FLAG's offer with much suspicion, noting that the offer appears to be another attempt by J-FLAG to introduce elements of what was uprooted from a Home and Family Life (HFLE) curriculum early last year. The HFLE curriculum was the subject of much controversy after material highlighting homosexuality was discovered in a text book prescribed by the curriculum. Now with the issue of some guidance counselors allegedly refusing to offer counsel to lesbian and gay students igniting much public debate, the NPTAJ said it is rejecting any attempt by J-FLAG to offer counselling in schools.
Hannam argued that, "If JFLAG is serious about counselling, they can offer those services privately." He also called on the Ministry to reject the offer made by the gay-rights group. "Let the guidance counsellors do their job," he said.
discussions with J-FLAG
Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites has said he is interested in involving all stakeholders in providing solutions and has been in discussions with J-FLAG and the Jamaica Coalition for Healthy Society. He is set to meet with guidance counselors next week to discuss the issue.
Daniel Thomas, president of the Love March Movement has also urged the Ministry of Education to reject J-FLAG's offer. "J-FLAG needs to understand that they have no place in our schools and our Government should look at stopping anybody, especially an organised effort to tell our students, our minors, our children that they should be engaging in something that is normal, that cannot be tolerated," he said.