MANY parents kept their children away from school yesterday over fears of so-called “gender theory” teaching in French schools.
In an SMS message sent to parents’ mobile phones, the conservative Equality and Reconciliation group claimed: “The national education system is going to teach your children that they are not born male or female, as God intended, but choose to become one.”
The message, which demanded a “Day of Withdrawal” from schools on Monday, worked. According to Le Parisien, 20% of pupils were absent from classes in deprived urban areas of Beauval and 40% were kept home from Binet primary school in Meaux, near Paris.
The call was reportedly most heeded across France by Muslim parents.
Author Farida Belghoul, who is behind the protest, based her claims on the Government's decision to experiment with what it called « ABC of Equality » lessons for children aged six to 11 in 500 schools this year.
Education officials deny children are being taught « gender theory », but say they are just teaching sex equality. They add « gender theory » does not exist, just the academic subject of « gender studies » which examines the roles of men and women in society.
Education Minister Vincent Peillon said the suggestion that the programme would « teach little boys how to become little girls » was a « totally false rumour ».
He said: « This is about education on equality between girls and boys, respect between girls and boys, that's all. »
The Manif Pour Tous movement, which opposed homosexual marriage is also now taking up arms against « gender theory », with a new march in Paris planned on February 2.
It has provided protest posters including one showing a giant (hermaphrodite) snail trying to squash children and one with children in fancy dress saying « hands off our gender stereotypes ».