Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist with a long history of making disturbing remarks about women, has announced plans to eradicate any and all references to feminism, homosexuality, and violence against women from the nation’s school textbooks. Bolsonaro, who has previously pledged to “combat the Marxist rubbish that has spread in educational institutions,” also declared that the country’s national high school exam would no longer include questions about gender of LGBT movements and that he was considering having the military take control over a number of public schools.
When he took office at the start of the year, Bolsonaro immediately moved to dismantle the education ministry’s diversity department and to amend guidelines for textbook publishers so that students wouldn’t have to learn about feminism or Brazil’s history — and ongoing crisis — with violence against women. According to human rights experts, an average of four women have been killed every day in Brazil since the start of the new year. Officials initially backed off the plan in the wake of public outrage, but Bolsonaro’s recent rhetoric — and the passage of an executive order barring the country’s human rights ministry from helping the LGBT community — has educators bracing for potentially drastic changes.
“We are still waiting to see how, in practice, all this is going to turn out,” said Nilton Brandao, the president Brazilian teachers’ union, PROIFES Federacao. “Right now, it does not make any sense.”
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