SUBSEQUENT to the media reports of guidance counsellors shunning lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) students, the Inter- Campus Guild Council (ICGC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has called for a review of the buggery laws regionally, so that no citizen of any Caribbean Community (Caricom) country is disenfranchised.
President of the UWI, Cave Hill Guild of Students Dalano DaSouza said that the ICGC’s position is that these laws are archaic and need to be looked at and brought in line with values such as non-discrimination, sexual orientation and different fundamental human rights individuals are entitled to.
“Each government in the region ought to make a conscientious decision to review these laws with a look towards streamlining them in such a way that no individual in the country is disenfranchised,” he said.
DaSouza, who was speaking at a press conference held Friday at the Mona campus to discuss decisions coming out of the Mona leg of ICGC meetings, said that when he heard the reports he was taken aback and stated that it speaks to how the society views issues that we are yet to move forward from.
“We’ve sort of been pushing a lot of these issues aside and being from a country across the Eastern Caribbean, when I saw the report in the media I was taken aback by it because I know that we try to encourage dialogue between students and their guidance counsellors,” he said. “To me I don’t think there should be an issue or a policy to say students can’t discuss this with their guidance counsellor. There should be open dialogue. These are the formidable years of the student and if it is that they are put in that sort of position it affects their development and the probability of success going forward, whether or not they move on to university and it affects how they interact with their family and how they interact with people of the opposite sex. We create problems for ourselves as societies and countries when we have these issues and sort of just push them aside and wait until we have bigger issues down the road.”
Traverse Banton, post graduate representative for the St Augustine Campus said that while buggery is still illegal for some Caribbean countries, shunning a student can damage him psychologically, which would prevent him from coming for assistance with other issues he might have. Instead, he said, guidance counsellors should think about the holistic development of the student and build on that.
Also, Guild President of the St Augustine Open Campus Aneka Lee said that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy the basic human right, which if denied in the form of shunning by counsellors, can be psychologically scarring.
Davianne Tucker, guild president of the Mona campus, added that before we get to the end result of somebody living in some big grassland with a makeshift kind of roof, we need to deal with it at this point and have active representation in terms of the support being given to some of these students.
Moreover, other parts of the discussions included the restructuring of foundation courses at the UWI, which the ICGC said is needed to prepare students for the real world.
DaSouza said that the campuses are currently in the pilot restructuring of the first foundation course, Caribbean Civilisation, and are looking at its content to make it applicable to all the campuses.
He said that apart from the history of the Caribbean, course developers should consider a foundation course in group dynamics and interacting as it is often said that students who graduate from the UWI have difficulty functioning in a work environment.
He added: “What about self skills — a course in helping students to structure or proposals as foundation courses, because never should a UWI student graduate and not have these basic skills. While they may be currently incorporated in different courses in different degrees, we sort of believe that there should be maybe a formulation of one or two courses that sorts of brings those skills together that every university student at this university should have the option of taking in order to bring themselves up to accept any position or fall seamlessly into the society after graduating.”
Gleaner - Ian Boyne: Christians Unfit To Be Guidance Counsellors?
Education Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites says that he does not believe the Jamaican law can enforce matters such as the buggery law.
Speaking at the People’s National Party’s (PNP) face-to-face forum Thursday night, Thwaites, in response to a question about the buggery law said: “Personally, I don’t believe that the law can enforce matters like that. But if the law sets a standard then it is important”.
Thwaites added:” My religious belief tells me that I must hate the sin but love the sinner. And therefore I stand in favour of maintaining high standards of morality and remind myself that the condemnation in the scriptures about unnatural acts is equal to adultery or fornication and other acts of immorality”.
”Finally I’ve heard that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman,” said Thwaites in closing the discussion on the topic.
Despite his stance, Thwaites urged those who were in attendance to be even in their condemnation and to “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”