Expert Consultation to Address Controversial Sex Education Program
In the aftermath of a series of school arson incidents believed to be linked to a contentious sex education program, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has announced plans to seek assistance from government extremism specialists. These arsons have fueled concerns and garnered attention due to signs protesting the “Evras program” found at some of the targeted schools.
The Evras Program and Its Controversy
The Evras program, which mandates four hours of training for students aged 11 to 12 and 15 to 16, aims to help them develop a better understanding of relationships and sexual matters. While this program has been available for several years, it was only recently made compulsory.
Prime Minister De Croo stressed that in a democratic nation like Belgium, schools should never become targets of violence. He emphasized the importance of tolerance, allowing for diverse perspectives and debates, but rejecting any resort to violence, especially within spaces frequented by children.
Protecting Educational Institutions
Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden echoed the sentiment, underlining the sanctity of educational institutions. She firmly stated that schools should remain untouched and that any attack on them crosses a red line.
Thus far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the school arsons, and law enforcement has yet to apprehend any suspects. The incidents have caused considerable concern and have generated significant debate within Belgian society.
Protests and Controversy
The controversy surrounding the Evras program has prompted protests in Brussels, drawing participation from several hundred individuals. In addition, several Islamic groups have issued a joint condemnation of the program, expressing concerns that it may lead to the “hypersexualization” of children. Furthermore, rumors and misinformation about the program have circulated widely on the internet.
Prime Minister De Croo emphasized that sexual education has been a longstanding part of Belgium’s curriculum, with over half a century of history. He warned against regressing on this front and highlighted the program’s role in promoting sexual health and awareness of children’s rights and physical integrity.
Education Minister Caroline Desir, who serves in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, urged the public to remain calm and sought to dispel misinformation about the Evras system. She clarified that the program does not endorse pedophilia, advocate for gender changes among children, or provide instruction on sexual activities.
Reports from local media have indicated that the prosecutor’s office in the city of Charleroi has not established a direct connection between the six school arsons reported thus far. Charleroi Mayor Paul Magnette has described these acts as a “form of terrorism,” underscoring the significance of schools as places where children learn values such as respect and tolerance.
Expanding Incidents in Liege
Additional reports have suggested that two schools in the city of Liege, also located in the Wallonia region, have experienced acts of vandalism.