By Lisa Zengarini
Cuban bishops have asked the Government to reconsider a resolution that wants to introduce reproductive and gender education courses in schools. In a Message to the Cuban families issued after their plenary assembly last week in La Habana, the bishops point out that the ‘Global sexuality education Program with a focus on gender and sexual and reproductive rights in the National education system’ doesn't take sufficient account of the fundamental rights of parents in the sexual education of their children and that gender ideology has “a serious impact on the formation of personality of children, adolescents and young people".
Concern for the promotion of 'gender ideology'
The message highlights that the resolution, which has been presented by the Ministry of Education, has spurred concern and criticism from parents, individuals and various faith groups, who fear it would promote so-called 'gender ideology' in the country, moving it away from its “history and cultural tradition”.
No scientific base
According to the Bishops’ Conference (COCC), Cuban people should be involved in a wide and “respectful” public dialogue so as to be fully informed on ‘gender ideology’ and its implications. "Gender ideology – the message explains - claims to be scientific, but in fact is a narrow point of view by which differences between men and women do not correspond to the constitutive nature of the human person, but are merely cultural and conventional constructions created according to the roles and stereotypes assigned to each sex by a given society”. On this assumption, it teaches that “human beings can choose from an early age their sexual identity, regardless of the biological sex with which they were born".
The anthropological foundation of the family undermined
However, this approach - the Cuban bishops say - leads to “educational programmes and laws that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy which is radically separated from the biological difference between male and female” undermining “the anthropological foundation of the family”. According to this view "human identity is determined by an individual choice, which can also change in time". This amounts to playing God: “We are creatures, we are not omnipotent”, the prelates warn, pointing against the imposition of this “single thought” in the education system. “What is created precedes us and must be received as a gift. We are called to protect our humanity, and this implies first of all accepting and respecting it as it was created”.
The fundamental right of parents to educate their children in line with their values
The message therefore reaffirms the need "to recognize and respect” the fundamental right of parents to educate their children in line with their values, by involving them in the determination and implementation of school programmes , including sexual education, which – bishops say - is primarily under their responsibility. In this respect they reiterate that everyone, especially parents, is called “to promote and witness to the beauty and joy of marriage created and willed by God", even when this implies “'going against the tide”.
Other family issues in Cuba
The message, which was published on the occasion of National Father’s Day on June 20 also deals with other themes related to family issues, including the many challenges Cuban families are having to face, especially in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. While acknowledging the public measures and provisions to support families and women in Cuba, bishops call the attention on a number of critical situations: low wages, increase in living costs, growing housing problems, low birth rates and high divorce rates, youth emigration.
"Let us pray that, in the heart of the great Cuban family, respect, mutual listening and social friendship, may always prevail over all forms of intolerance and violence", the message concludes.