Switzerland: School’s Gender Day triggers threats

A school in Stäfa in the Swiss canton of Zurich was forced this week to cancel its annual Gender Day, which features discussions about role models and equality and had been held for ten years. After politicians from the right-wing conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP) publicly criticised the event, a wave of threats and abuse in the media ensued. Commentators complain about the increasingly aggressive tone of public debate.

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

An imported battle of cultures

The anti-gender campaign is un-Swiss, argues the Aargauer Zeitung:

“Elected politicians are fuelling agitation against social workers and teachers. An event at which content prescribed by the curriculum is to be taught cannot take place. ... The campaign against the annual Gender Day in Stäfa cannot be seen as an isolated incident. It fits into a right-wing narrative that can be observed worldwide. Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump have all cast themselves as champions of traditional family values that are supposedly under threat. ... Respect for minorities is part of the DNA of Switzerland with its many languages and religions. The SVP’s attempt to import the right-wing culture war from the US is un-Swiss.”

Christoph Bernet
Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Ugly tone of debate hurting the cause

The aggressive tone of the debate is deterring people from listening, the Tages-Anzeiger criticises:

“The poles dominate, those who are loud, those who are aggressive, those who shout ‘gender gaga’ when the conventional role model is questioned — and the others who shout ‘Nazi’ and find it ‘transphobic’ when someone questions whether it is wise to give teenagers puberty blockers. All the shrieking is tiring. It’s annoying. And the longer it goes on, the more it disgusts you. Particularly dismaying is that both sides are doing a disservice to the cause they claim to be so passionate about. ... If the politicians and activists just stopped shouting not only would people listen to them more attentively. It might also turn out that the whole thing is not as bad as they thought.”

Bettina Weber