Why is education on LGBTIQ topics in schools important?

School is one of the key environments for socialisation where children and youngsters develop their competencies and establish relationships with peers and adults. In order enable that; it is crucial that schools are spaces that are

safe, timulating and supportive. This is especially a challenge in context of young lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people who face stigma, discrimination and marginalization and often various forms of violence (IGLYO, 2018). The results of the survey conducted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2014 show that in Croatia, by the age of 18, two thirds of LGBTI people hid their orientation at school and 69% of them experienced negative comments.

With a goal of ensuring inclusive education, in 2018 IGLYO has, in partnership with civil society organizations and education professionals, conducted a study which showed that less than half of Member States’ national or regional action plans explicitly prevent and address homo/bi/transphobic violence (LGBTQI Inclusive Education Report). The European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations recognise the worrying presence of discrimination and violence against LGBTI youth in schools. Therefore, they have issued directives and recommendations aimed at combating homo/bi/transphobia in education and protecting children and young people in school environment. These international documents recognise the importance of a comprehensive approach to this problem. Such approach includes the development of national and school policies, curricula and educational materials, trainings of educators, support for young LGBTI people, and implementation of educational and information campaigns at the national level (Guidelines for combating homophobia, transphobia and peer violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, LORI, 2016).

Croatia also recognises the importance of human rights protection and provides legislative protection against various forms of discrimination, while there is also an effort to promote human rights through school curricula. The National Framework Curriculum (2010) emphasizes the importance of human rights discourse, yet only in the form of cross-curricular topics, which due to the significant amount of compulsory teaching content fail to be implemented at satisfactory levels. The report Human Rights in Croatia: Overview of 2019 (Human Rights House Zagreb) points out that a new curriculum for the cross-curricular topic Health “does not mention gender stereotypes, gender equality, LGBTIQ topics, issues of respect for diversity and tolerance of sexual minorities or promotion of positive attitudes towards sexuality”.  Zagreb Pride (2018) in the Report on the Human Rights of LGBTIQ Persons in Croatia 2014-2017 warns that “despite the legal prohibition of discrimination against LGBTIQ persons, and given the non-implementation of plans aimed at reducing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the education system, basic knowledge and attitudes towards LGBTIQ people are formed primarily within religious education, which, unlike health education and civic education, is systematically implemented in public schools ”. The inappropriate and humiliating content where same-sex orientation is mentioned right next to rape and pedophilia is precisely visible in the religious education textbook Together in Love – Textbook for Catholic religious education of the seventh grade of primary school.

Photo 1. Periš, J., Cicvarić, A., Galić, V., i Rađa, V. (2017.). Together in Love - Textbook for Catholic religious education of the seventh grade of primary school. Zagreb: Kršćanska sadašnjost, p. 57

Research at national level (LORI, 2007.; Bagić i Gvozdanić, 2015.; Zagreb Pride, 2013.) affirms that homo/bi/transphobia and violence against LGBTI persons are among key issues in the Croatian society, which further indicates the necessity of adequate inclusion of human rights content and LGBTIQ topics in school curricula. The research by Kuliš and Petrović (2018) examined the connection between certain educational factors and attitudes of high school students about people of the same-sex orientation. The results of this research have indicated that 50% of high school students attending final grade consider same-sex orientation to be a form of disorder or disease.

It is undeniable that various forms of homo/bi/transphobia leave immediate and long-term consequences on the psychosocial health of LGBTI youth. LGBTI persons are victims of emotional, verbal and physical violence and also live in fear of possible attacks or rejection. In facing these problems, LGBTI youngsters deal with depression, anxiety, fears and feelings of anger – while generally they do not seek help from teachers because of the fear of further condemnation, and their particular vulnerability is reflected in the fact that they often do not have support of their families.

If we consider all of the above, can we really claim that the Croatian educational system educates young persons to respect human rights and freedoms of all people equally? It would also be worth considering whether Croatian schools are really places of safety and support for all students.


The text was created as part of the #LORIIDAHOBIT2020 campaign with the aim of informing the public about the position of LGBTI youth in the educational system in Croatia and the importance of education on LGBTIQ topics in schools. The campaign includes a series of video testimonies of LGBTI young people who talk about their experiences during school and informative articles on the issues of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in education. The campaign is created by second-year graduate students of pedagogy at FFRi, as part of their professional practice, Antonela Pribanić and Tea Staničić, in collaboration with mentors from the LORI association.

If I Have LGBTQ Children (Four Promises From A Christian Pastor and Parent) – John Pavlovitz

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have LGBTQ children.

I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do quite often.

Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.

For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…

1) If I have LGBTQ children, you’ll all know it.

My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret unless they choose that.

I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most LGBT kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.

If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.

2) If I have LGBTQ children, I’ll pray for them.

I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal.

I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them simply because of who they are. I’ll pray that God shields them from those who will despise them and wish them harm; who will curse them to Hell and put them through Hell, without ever knowing them at all. I’ll pray that they enjoy life; that they laugh and dream and feel and forgive, and that they love God and all people.

Above all, I’ll pray to God that my children won’t allow the unGodly treatment they might receive from some of God’s misguided children, to keep them from pursuing God.

3) If I have LGBTQ children, I’ll love them.

I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing them in the school cafeteria, kissing them in public, kind of love.

I won’t love them despite their sexuality, and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them for the same reasons I already do; simply because they’re sweet and funny and caring and smart and kind and stubborn and flawed and original and beautiful—and mine.

If my kids are gay, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them.

4) If I have LGBTQ children—I have gay children.

If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are.

God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that He, “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.

Because of that, there isn’t a coming deadline on their sexuality that their mother and I are working feverishly toward. I don’t believe there’s some magical expiration date approaching, by which time she and I need to somehow do or say or pray just the right things to get them to “turn straight”, or forever lose them to the other side.

They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be—and today they’re pretty darn great.

Many of you may be offended by all of this, I fully realize. I know this may be especially true if you are a religious person with a particular theological stance. Perhaps you find the whole topic unsettling.

As you’ve been reading, you may have been rolling your eyes, clicking the roof of your mouth or drafting familiar Scriptures to send to me. You may be praying for me to repent or preparing to Unfriend me or writing me off as a sinful, evil, Hell-bound heretic, but with as much gentleness and understanding as I can muster: I really couldn’t care less.

This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you.

You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions.

You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything.

And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with, when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well.

If you’re a parent, I don’t know how you’ll respond if you find out your children are gay, but I pray you consider it.

One day, despite your perceptions of your kids or how you’ve parented, you may need to respond in real-time, to a frightened, frantic, hurting child; one whose sense of peace and identity and acceptance; whose heart and very life, may be placed in your hands in a way you never imagined—and you’ll need to respond.

If that day should ever come for me; if my children should ever come out to me, this is the Dad I hope I’ll be to them.

Sodom – the sin of homosexuality?

Blessed be God!

The word sodomite creeped into the European languages as a pejorative term for someone who is gay, and sodomy, which was used as a legal term for sexual “crimes against nature”, ie anal and oral sexual intercourse, bestiality, etc. All of this is based on an exegetical reading of Scripture that says that the punishment against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was the punishment for the crime of homosexuality.

Image by Gidon Pico from Pixabay

According to the Bible, these two cities were not far from the Dead Sea, and they were punished severely by God. According to the story, Abraham tried to persuade God to spare these two cities and their inhabitants with the words, “Will you also destroy the innocent with the guilty? Perhaps there are fifty innocents in the city. Will you destroy the place rather than spare it for the fifty innocents who will be there?”

In what follows, God promises to spare Sodom if there are fifty innocent people in it. Abraham kept trying to reduce this number, step by step, eventually reaching number ten. Yet not even ten innocent people could be found in Sodom. When the angels of Yahweh received lodging with Lot and his family, the inhabitants of the city surrounded Lot’s house demanding that Lot hand over the angels to them. In their anger, the townspeople did not even consider Lot’s proposal to hand over his two unmarried daughters to them instead of angels, after which the angels blinded the attackers, and with the help of force, dragged Lot and his family out of the city, commanding them not to look at Sodom.

“Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah…” (Gen. 19,24), destroying both cities and the area around them. Lot’s wife, who, despite the Lord’s command, turned to the cities, turned into a pillar of salt.

Centuries later, this event was used as evidence of the destructiveness of same-sex relationships. But this issue needs to be approached more closely. First of all, it should be pointed out that Christianity does not say that homosexuality is a sin, but that a homosexual act is sinful.

Photo by Chetan Vlad from Pexels

The question of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah is somewhat obscure in the Book of Genesis itself. The sins of the cities are first mentioned in Gen. 18: 20-21: Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great. Because their sin is so grievous, I will go down to see if their actions fully justify the outcry that has reached Me. If not, I will find out.” Abraham then tries to save Sodom, bargaining with God about how many righteous people can be saved in the city, apparently contemplating the fate of his cousin Lot and his family.

How does God “know” about the sin of Sodom? He sends two angels, who come to Lot. He entertains them in his house, but: “But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” The words “know them” is translated in various ways. For example, some English translations of the Bible literally say “to have sex with them” (referring to two guests who are only later identified by Scripture as angels). The basic translation of the Hebrew word “yadah” is “to know.” We all already know when we say in everyday speech that someone is “known in a biblical way.” Yadah is the Hebrew word for sexual intercourse, but also to literally meet someone. Of course, this was not about the people of Sodom wanting to meet two foreigners: their intention was to dominate the foreigners and rape them.

Image by Karina Cubillo from Pixabay

The narrative then gets an even darker. Lot defends his guests by saying, “Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” (Gen. 19: 8). People refuse his (rather immoral) offer, and the angels come to the door, blind the men, and tell Lot and his family to leave town.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the memories of Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned, and it becomes more visible what the Jewish writers considered to be the sins of these two cities. The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel speaks of this in particular: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them when I saw it.” (Ezekiel 16:49). Ezekiel says that the sin of Sodom was inhospitality, cruelty and evasion of justice, arrogance and insensitivity to human needs. Despite their wealth, they did not help the needy. Nowhere does Ezekiel mention same-sex sexual relations. The rabbinic tradition speaks of meeting Lot’s guests more as xenophobia and exploiting the weak, although in the end there was the act of rape, which is a terrible sin whether it is the rape of women or men. The Midrash is full of stories of Sodom and Gomorrah, their cruelty, and utter contempt for the poor and needy. The inhabitants themselves lived in great wealth, comfort, and sexual debauchery. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah as a place of adultery and lies and warns the cities of Edom and Babylon that they will end up as Sodom (Jer. 23:14, Jer. 49: 17-18, Jer. 50: 39-40). Equally about Sodom and Gomorrah speaks Isaiah, who also warns Babylon that it will end up like these two cities. Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned again in the New Testament, as a reminder that sins will be punished as Sodom and Gomorrah are punished.

Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

No one throughout Scripture has identified the event in the Book of Genesis with a same-sex act. Rape (which is clear), adultery (a sin that is also universal), inhospitality, arrogance, cruelty, lack of feelings for others are condemned. Nowhere does the writer of Genesis state that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah had same-sex relationships and that God punished them for it. Nowhere does he say that the sin is same-sex love. How did same-sex relationships come into the context of Sodom? This was the conclusion of Philo of Alexandria, a Hellenistic-Jewish philosopher of the first century AD. Still, for a long time after him, Sodom and Gomorrah were not discussed in this context.

Image by M P from Pixabay

What does the story of Sodom and Gomorrah tell us? Any sexual intercourse by which we commit adultery is considered bad. In a heterosexual or homosexual sense, it is obviously a sin to force sexual intercourse or rape someone.

Such adultery and rape, as described in the Book of Genesis, are clearly a pillar of sexual immorality and perversion.

The apostle Jude also tells us about this, warning of sexual sins, reminding us of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the surrounding cities that surrendered to them. In short, rape, adultery, and group sexual violence are immoral, perverted, and sinful acts. Same-sex relationships? Nothing is said about them at all.

Furthermore, Sodom and Gomorrah chronically lack hospitality, which is an exceptional crime of the ancient world. A foreigner is still perceived as the “holy of holies” in many countries of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Zephaniah explicitly speak of sin against strangers, although they do not directly mention it. Even Jesus mentions the lack of hospitality as the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt 10: 9-15 and Lk 10: 8-12). And how much could this inhospitality be connected to the doctrine of Christ, from the encounter with the Samaritan woman (stranger), to the commandment “feed the hungry, give the thirsty to drink!”

Sodom was a city that spread the contagion of its perverted culture. Although he was the only one who provided hospitality to strangers, Lot himself was infected with that rot, which is evident in his darkened mind and effort to offer his daughters to get gang raped. His family does not listen to the word of God and many are punished, and in the end Lot, himself has sex with his daughters.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

All of this points to the dangers of a world without God, to a culture of rejection, strife, and excessive hedonism. The toxic culture we can see around us is a danger to our faith and balance in life. The story of Lot tells us that we too sometimes live in Sodom. Although it does not give us a solution, Lot’s destiny is a call to awaken, preserve, and stimulate the Christian faith. Adultery, arrogance, carelessness, debauchery are not the hallmarks of homosexuals, as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah tends to be misinterpreted, but is a challenge to the modern world to be fought with faith and mutual love.

May almighty God bless us and lead us on the path of Truth and Love!

father Macarius