an armband stored in Qatar, homophobia legitimized in class – Liberation

Libé of children’s authors

French positions on respect for Qatari culture at the expense of human rights put the defense of sexual minorities into perspective with the students of a high school in the Paris suburbs.

This article is taken from the Libé special children’s authors. For the fourth year, Liberation is putting on the colors and texts of youth for the Montreuil Book Fair, which opens its doors on November 30. Find all the articles ici.

A public high school in a Parisian suburb, one afternoon. I am invited to discuss with a second class, about my book the tip of the compass (1). The text lets us hear the voice of a teenager who castigates the crushing baggage imposed by the fact of being born a girl and investigates her family heritage. This is an opportunity for an exchange with the students on gender, sexuality, injunctions. Everyone is invited to draw on their personal experience to testify. We talk about consent, the couple, the relationship of domination, morality and the French motto. The “family” value seems to have consensus in the assembly, “to marry and have children” it is the grail, “especially if you earn a lot of money”. The ambient discourse is quite binary, the girls go “to take care” and the boys “protect their clan”. A young man claims to have a sociological study that proves that men at work are more efficient than women. A young girl raises her hand undeterred to advocate radical equality for all. All the political colors seem present… Except perhaps those of the rainbow. Protecting his own, yes but… “if my son is gay, I disown him”.

After several years of interventions with school audiences, I’m not getting used to these recurring and banal positions, but this time it’s been a long time. Reflection is followed by a rustle of approval. With the speakers present, we go back to the basics: sexual orientation as a condition and not as a choice, the principle of a school and an inclusive republic for all. We try to dissect homophobia, how it is constructed and can be deconstructed. Another boy calls out to me “But, Madam, if everyone decides to be homosexual, there will be no one left on Earth?” At a time when overpopulation threatens our life on Earth, I tell him that we may have a clue. My joke falls flat.

“If it shocks us, we are not obliged to accept”

This is where the World Cup in Qatar comes into play, and the echoes of French positions regarding the armband which was supposed to support the LGBTQIA + cause at the World Cup. These young people have seen the captain of the France team prefer to respect the «culture» Qatar in support of gender minorities, and by the same token that the non-respect of human rights could be qualified as cultural, and therefore legitimate. These young people have heard the French president utter that sport should not be politicized and seen people in a position to promote reserve and discretion about rights that one would have hoped would be inalienable. “If it shocks us, we don’t have to accept.” When we put the question of racism in perspective with that of homophobia, there is no hesitation. Aloud, the whole class agrees on equality between individuals of all origins. But sexual orientation and gender remain criteria that open up a space for intellectual negotiation and personal point of view.

The dream team of 1998 and then that of 2018 were political in a place of inclusion and representation of minorities. What is the message of the 2022 team to the younger generations? If Macron did not want to see sport and politics mix, it is clear that sport and its stars rub shoulders with education (eminently political), and indeed play on the advancement as well as the decline of mentalities.

(1) Ed. Acts South junior, 72 pp, €10.50.

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