In Tuesday night’s newscast, we brought you highlights of a school boycott taking place in the north. Some parents have pulled their kids out of school in protest of the proposed 2013 Gender Policy. As we mentioned, GOB has held off from implementing the policy, until further reconsideration of contested clauses. Nonetheless, the group, supported by BelizeCan and the Alliance of Minister and Leaders in Belize don’t appear to have any intention of letting up until the policy is retracted and revised. On Wednesday, the boycott stretched to the capital, where parents and their children gathered in front of the Ministry of Education headquarters to submit a signed petition.
“We are out here today trying to fill out a form that we are submitting to the Ministry of Education, asking them to retract the plans that they have according to the Gender Policy and according to the new laws of Belize and according to the HFLE Manual…the plans that they have for the schools, we are asking to retract. You see, a lot of kids are here today, they are not in school because this is a boycott of the schools, and what you see has started and it is going to go really rampant. We are hoping that the Government will actually back off and submit to what Paragraph C of the Constitution says that “the will of the people shall form the base of Government in a democratic society”; Paragraph D says that “men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values upon the rule of law”.
Patrick Menzies read a portion of the petition for our cameras.
Patrick Menzies: “It says here: “Honourable Prime Minister and Honourable Minister of Education, we denounce support for all violators of the constitution.” What are we talking about? We make a solemn pledge before God and men that for the next ten years to not support any member of any political party which violates the Constitution of Belize by promoting or introducing and implementing policies, bills, laws or agreements that contravene the principles of God and our respect for moral and spiritual values or the rule of law as cited in the Preamble of the Constitution of Belize. The law of Section 53 outlaws sodomy, therefore it should continue to be outlawed and it should not be taught in the school that the rectum is a sexual organ or that your anus is a sexual organ”.
Now as we mentioned, parents and guardians have taken their kids out of the classroom, some students have been missing classes for over a week. Our journalist pressed Patrick Menzies on the productiveness or perhaps a lack thereof of this act.
Mr. Patrick Menzies: “They started last week and last week was only a four day week. So, I think today is Wednesday. Last week was four days; today is three. So, some of them have been out of school for seven days; some have been out of school for less time”.
Reporter: “But they are missing a lot of education. When they go back, they have a lot of catching up to do. How do you respond to that?”
Mr. Patrick Menzies: “I like that. That’s so nice! You know, whenever somebody is sick they miss a lot of education; they have a lot of catching up to do; whenever their parents have to go to town, they have a lot of catching up to do. Let’s be real: most of these people out here believe just like the Constitution says whereas the people of Belize affirm that the nation of Belize shall be founded upon the principles which acknowledge the Supremacy of God! Now if you are going to teach me the supremacy of the devil I will miss to miss out 1,000 years of your school. I rebuke it, reject it; it is not for my child! This kid, when he is 20 years old, will be able to remember that his dad and mom brought him out here to stand up against sodomy in Belize”.
But before our interview with the BelizeCan President, Patrick Menzies found himself in a bit of a sticky situation with the Belmopan Police Department. He and another person were escorted into the precinct, where they were able to amicably work things out with the Police. Menzies explained what happened.
Mr. Patrick Menzies: “The little problem this morning occurred because I had already spoken to the police. They knew what we were doing. But again, he was supposed to share it with the commander and he didn’t. So, there was some miscommunication in the Police Department that caused a mix up. So, again, I do want to thank because we asked the police to come out earlier this morning. So, I want to thank them, but again, some things were mishandled and that is being corrected right now in the Department. So, I want to thank the acting Compol Aragon this morning.”
Reporter: “So, nobody got arrested or detained today?”
Mr. Patrick Menzies: “Well, they actually put my buddy back there. They took off his shoes and took him to the back and took me to talk, but everybody is fine, thank God”.
One clause in the policy that drew opposition sought to redefine the term gender, no longer meaning a male and a female. That Patrick Menzies says, they will not accept. He further claims that a petition is being circulated by some church leaders, calling for the term gender to represent a male and female, within the context of society. To this Mr Menzies affirmed “We reject that. Societies are different, I want no context of any society.” Again, he maintains that the recent days of showing are not demonstrations, but rather, only an attempt to get the attention of Government. Meanwhile, the ministry of Education representative in Belmopan is appealing to parents to please send their kids to school, as in the end, only the children will be negatively impacted by BelizeCan’s activities. The MOE already removed the controversial HFLE manual from circulation months ago, the Revised gender Policy is currently under revision by the Church organizations, and the gender neutral rape bill is currently undergoing public consultations and input.