Claude Meisch, the DP education minister, has “strongly condemned” a mathematics textbook and said it would be pulled from Luxembourg state schools because it contained “homophobic clichés” about two of the country’s leading politicians.
In the second edition of “Clic & Maths 3e”, published by Éditions de Boeck in Belgium, secondary school students need to calculate the proportion of white and red paint that “Xavier” and “Étienne” need to mix to create a pink shade for their respective bedrooms.
Both Xavier Bettel, the DP prime minister, and Étienne Schneider, the LSAP deputy prime minister, are openly gay.
The education ministry said on 6 June that supervision of the book had fallen through the cracks. The Belgian version of “Clic & Maths 3e” was originally adapted for Luxembourg in 2013. That edition was approved by the ministry’s “Script” unit.
In the second version, released in 2015, two female first names were replaced by two male first names, the government said. These changes were made by a teachers’ working group without going through the official Script review. Meisch said this was “unacceptable”.
“The minister regrets this adaptation, which conveys homophobic clichés [and] strongly condemns them,” said a ministry spokesperson.
The maths book will be removed and replaced by another.
Company says it is committed to respecting people
The book’s publisher said it lamented the phrasing. “In 10 years in publishing, this is first time I’ve experienced this situation,” Jean-Raymond Jehu, sales manager at Vanin,Éditions de Boeck’s parent company, stated by telephone. “Our publishing house takes respect for cultures, nationalities and genders very seriously.”
Jehu said the firm follows a charter, set by the French speaking region of Belgium, which requires publishers “to respect genders and equality among people in order to receive a license to sell their textbooks” to state schools.
He did not comment on how the offending text was included, nor on the what steps the company would be taking.