October 8, 2022 saopstenje udzbenici biologijeThe Autonomous Women's Center, as an organization, and many of its members individually, supported the Press Release regarding the decision of the Ministry of Education on the "controversial" biology textbooks. We hope for a response from the authorities, as well as for the public to find out what the arguments of the working group at the Institute for the Advancement of Education are, which supported the content changes in the already approved biology textbooks for the eighth grade of elementary school, despite the declaration of the biological scientific community about the adequacy of their content.

The decision of the working group of the Institute for the Improvement of Education and Training and the competent Ministry imposes the conclusion that any form of speech about sexuality in schools - in natural or social sciences - is not desirable, and therefore should not be allowed.

In the Republic of Serbia, there is no school subject that deals with the sexual development of the human individual, such that it covers both its biological foundations and the social aspects of human sexuality. Although male and female students are exposed to the examination of the complex processes of meiosis and mitosis, as well as the genetic development of cells and complex organisms, our physicality, gender, that is, the socially determined life of sex-specific bodily living beings, as well as the wide field of sexuality, remain inaccessible to them.

The solution that was found the previous year, to deal with that issue in one lesson in the biology textbook for the eighth grade, was seen as of a compromise. Biology also opened up to scientific knowledge that is not necessarily biological, but it made it possible to at least touch on a topic at the level of basic education that cannot be covered within geography, mathematics and other areas that are available at the lowest and only compulsory educational level.

If those most invited to the public debate on the program and content of biology textbooks (biologists, male and female teachers, as evidenced by the clear reactions of the Serbian Biological Society, all biological faculties in the country and the National Education Council) do not see the problem, it becomes obvious that today the situation from 2017 is being repeated, when the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development stopped the project of introducing Educational Packages on sexual violence in an accelerated procedure. Both then and now, the state reacts under the pressure of conservative intellectuals, political parties and the church.

We condemn the act by which educational issues are regulated on the "National prayer for the sanctity of marriage and family". Petitions are not places where it is decided what is or is not science, nor are referendums used to regulate scientific achievements. If that is the case, we can expect many departments at Belgrade University to be closed due to their alleged unscientific nature.

Therefore, we demand from the competent Ministry, the Institute for the Improvement of Education and the Government of the Republic of Serbia to urgently return the lesson in question to biology textbooks and take all other measures that guarantee the secularity of the state and scientific content in the public education system of the state.

You can see the announcement with the list of signatories HERE.