Blogs & Opinion
6 December 2018 • by Mathieu Hemelaar
Lecture in sexual diversity
At the moment I am giving lectures on sexual diversity and gender diversity to all second-year Social Work students. They are intriguing lectures. The students learn to put themselves in the position of someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. They also learn to talk respectfully about and with LGBTs. It is not only about respect for someone’s identity but also about respect for a homosexual lifestyle. In each lecture, five students have interviewed five LGBTs about their discovery of their sexual or gender identity and their coming-out process, and presented this in the lecture. Some were poignant presentations. If only Johan Derksen had attended such a lecture during his degree programme…
Before the lecture, the students completed an anonymous questionnaire about LGBT acceptance. The questions in the questionnaire followed the surveys into acceptance of LGBTs by The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP). The question that I highlight is whether a person finds it offensive if a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, or a man and woman kiss each other on the street.
The scores of the second-year Social Educational Care students (pink) were compared to secondary school pupils (green, 2017 publication) and Dutch adults (blue, 2018 publication).
Our students score as more LGBT friendly than these two groups. That is something I also expected from a social degree programme. Yet, there is still a group of 6% that do not accept two homosexuals kissing.
From the analysis by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research, it appears that the group that do not accept a LGBT lifestyle consists of a hard core of highly religious people: church-goers and Orthodox Christian churches, such as the Reformed Association in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, and Muslims with a traditional cultural background. I couldn’t have known this about our students because I didn’t ask them about their religious-cultural background in the questionnaire. Fortunately, the lectures evoked good discussions. In the classes, students talked about the standards at home and how they contrast with what they learn in the degree programme.
Homosexual Muslim youths
A Muslim student was convinced that the exclusion of LGBTs will die out with the second generation of Moroccan Dutch. Another Muslim expressed how she was torn. Her best friend at senior secondary vocational education is lesbian, but she would have difficulty accepting it if her own child was homosexual.
From other lectures, I know the stories from reformed students who attended Driestar Christian University. You probably know the name, it’s the university that Leonard Geluk talks about in his vlog . These students are taught that you must never bully or verbally abuse LGBTs, but that the Bible stipulates that marriage is solely for a man and a woman. Students at the Driestar are taught that the only righteous path in life for LGBTs is one of celibacy. You can be homosexual but not a practicing homosexual. That is at odds with the Sexual Rights are Human Rights (WHO) declaration signed by the Netherlands and the law that guarantees the rights of all Dutch youths to sexuality and marriage. It is also at odds with the core goals established in the statutory task of education to respect sexual diversity and gender diversity.
Work to be done
There is still plenty of work to be done. As long as lecturers at the Driestar Christian University and Muslim parents deny LGBTs their sexual identity and sexual freedom there is still plenty for all global citizens to do to bring humane improvements in this. Leonard, you said in your vlog that Driestar advised you to maintain more contact with our students. I would like to advise Driestar to stop preaching that practicing LGBT students are living in sin. Our Social Work students now all know that it can lead to multiple minority stress with severe psychosocial problems. Our students understand that they can make the different to achieve a LGBT-inclusive society.
Mathieu Heemelaar is chair of the General Council and a Social Educational Care lecturer. He writes a blog on the importance of counterforce.