Dutch reformational schools out LGBT students to their parents

26 March 2021 - The Dutch newspaper NRC reports that the Dutch reformational Christian Gomarus school outs LGBT students to their parents without the student's permission. Because the parents are from ultraconservative Christian communities, the results are often disastrous. The teachers and counselors of Gomarus follow the guideline on homosexuality developed by their national reformational school federation VGS, which is looking for the limits of the Dutch equal opportunities legislation. (Photo: title page of a Dutch curriculum targeting conservative Christian schools)

Involuntary outing

The Dutch newspaper NRC interviewed eight students about their experiences. The article starts with a lesbian girl who started dating another girl. The school found out, and asked the girl to come to the school counselor’s office. Once there, the counselor told the girl that she had to come out to her parents. The girl got afraid and refused, but the counselor said that he already called her parents and that they were waiting outside. He went out to get the parents while he locked the girl in his office.
The intention of these kind of conversations is that the parents voluntarily take their child out of school, so that the school can keep it's population “pure” in its reformational mission. This girl and two other girls had to leave the school this way. One of the girls sued the school afterwards and got some damages paid, but only with a duty of confidentiality. These event showed other students coming out would never be possible in this school.

Conservative policies

The reformational schools are known for their very conservative orthodox policy. They maintain that same-sex relations are sinful, and they literally cut sections on sexual education out of the textbooks. Students are not allowed to watch television or listen to pop music in school or at home. When discussing the persecution of gay men in Uganda, teachers tell students that the death penalty goes a little bit far, but that imprisonment would be a good option.
The reformational schools are relatively “safe” in the sense that there is little explicit bullying. This is probably due to the strict discipline which is part of the authoritarian way these schools are managed. But at the same time, the schools handle diversity very badly. Black children are called Nigger, Asian children are called Chinese in a derogative way. And gay, lesbian and transgender people are called an abomination in the eyes of God.

The reformational guideline on homosexuality

The national reformational school federation VGS developed a detailed guideline for the member schools on how to deal with gender and same-sex relations. The first versions of this guideline were public and were fiercely criticized in the media and by the National College of Human Rights, which is responsible for maintaining the equal opportunities legislation. The last version is not public anymore and cannot be found on the website of the federation. The guideline is full of “care” for LGBT students, but the care is mainly focused on trying to coach LGBT students back to “God’s path”, which means to not have sexual relations or support sexual or gender diversity.
Because the Dutch equal opportunities legislation forbids firing teachers or refusing students based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the federation has continuously been looking for loopholes to stay within the legislation and at the same time to implement their orthodox views. Students cannot be kicked out of school when they decide to have a same-sex relationship. The loophole the federation found was not to kick the students out of school directly, but to forcibly out of them to their parents, and requesting the parents to transfer their child “voluntarily” to another school. They seem not to see that the damage they do to the children and to family life is incongruent with their professed “care” for students.

Source: NRC 26 March 2021