Implementing education about LGBTQ+ community could “give kids courage to share their identity”

Czechia’s Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek recently expressed his support for implementing education about the LGBTQ+ community into the country’s secondary school curriculum. If applied, the move would be a step towards members of the LGBTQ+ community feeling more included and visible, HateFree Culture’s Lukáš Houdek told me.

“We will see if this will really be implemented, but just to have this topic brought up by the minister of education is really quite important. It is especially important if we consider the countries around us – Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland where things seem to be going backwards for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Lukáš Houdek | Photo: Veronika Ruppert,  Czech Radio

Especially given the context within Czech society – for instance, same-sex marriage isn’t legal here, so it seems that this would be a big step forward for the education system to address these topics.

“Exactly, and I think it sends Czech society a message that we should not be treating the LGBTQ+ community the way other countries that I mentioned in the region are.”

I want to talk a little bit about the pushback. Even though this was just a discussion brought up by the education minister,  MP Zdeněk Kettner said that the LGBTQ+ community has “no historical justification”, basically saying that this doesn’t have a place in the education system here in Czechia. What do you make of these comments?

“I can’t say it differently, it’s really just BS. If you look at this historically, of course the LGBTQ+ community has a history and has been here forever – we just didn’t see them because they were hiding who they were for fear of persecution. If we look at the Holocaust or the Second World War – the same thing that was happening to Jews and to Roma, or other communities that were imprisoned and killed in concentration camps, was happening to LGBTQ+ people. Also in our country during communism the community was persecuted and had to hide.”

Mikuláš Bek | Photo: Zuzana Jarolímková,

It’s a big question, but where do you think this resistance comes from within Czech society to address these topics?

“I don’t think it’s resistance from society, because if we look at surveys, the vast majority of our population is quite okay with the LGBTQ+ community and want to give us equal rights – marriage, and the ability for gay people to adopt children. It’s basically just the politicians and lobby groups that try to push this back and go against the will of society.

“I think this is because they project their own fears and beliefs onto the situation, and think they might gain some political points because they think their voters might be thinking like them. It can be both of these things, but I think if they would be more reasonable, they could count on more political points and support from society for supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”

If education about the LGBTQ+ community was implemented into Czech classrooms – why would it be beneficial?

“I think it’s very important, especially for queer kids who are sitting in the classroom. Suddenly, the teacher would be teaching about someone like them, and they wouldn’t feel that excluded anymore when spoken about in a more historical and positive context. It could give kids courage to deal with their identity – because maybe they haven’t come out yet but are thinking about it. I think it would make kids feel much better about themselves, and also show other students that being queer is nothing strange and is something we should all respect, which would also stand against bullying in classrooms.”