“Our children will be informed at school about individual and group sex, about masturbating, from the age of 5 and from the age of 9 they will be informed and subjected to pornography… by outsiders. It’s very serious”. This is one of the many messages circulating on social networks against a training on “Education in Relational, Affective and Sexual Life” (Evras) that has been taught in schools since this school year on a mandatory basis in the Belgian region of Wallonia and Brussels. The messages of rejection and hoaxes from some opposing groups in recent weeks have been the fertilizer for the fires recorded in at least six schools in the city of Charleroi, and two others vandalized in Liège. At the moment, the culprits have not been found.

The first fires were declared a week ago, events that authorities confirmed were “criminal.” Messages against the Evras training had been found inside the schools. Throughout the week there were others and, for the moment, eight schools have been burned or vandalized.

The situation has alarmed the authorities, who have criticized the fake news about the training, proof of how lies have spread as quickly as fires. “They are acts of extreme barbarity, acts of terrorism,” said the Federal Government’s Minister of Education, Caroline Désir.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo called for an end to the vandalization of the centers. “We live in a country where there is tolerance and debate exists (…), but this should never end in violence, and above all not in places frequented by children,” said the politician after the meeting of the Council of Ministers. At the meeting, the Government, together with the State security services and local authorities, decided to deploy more police in educational centers. In addition, the country’s Center for Cybersecurity has commissioned a team of analysts to monitor Internet pages that contain false information about Evras. For each hoax, an investigation will be opened to also determine who promotes and finances it.

Although it is unknown who is behind these acts, the Minister of Education announced that they have found information on social networks originating in France “and that they know nothing about Evras.” Fake news on social networks has spread endlessly since two weeks ago, when classes began, with videos on TikTok in which they talk about alleged sexual assaults on minors during the course of the workshop.

Sexual training in Belgium is not new. In some educational centers it has been taught for fifty years. Neither is Evras, present in schools in the Wallonia and Brussels region since 2012, although it was optional at the initiative of each school, so there were many that had never taught it. To end the disparity between schools, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation approved its mandatory nature in two courses: two hours in sixth grade (11-12 years old) and two hours in fourth grade (15-16 years old). In total, four hours. And a guide was adopted to help professionals. The rest of the courses are optional.

Associations and parents opposed to training charge above all against the issue of sexuality, but this is much more. Above all, it addresses the management of emotions, self-esteem and family life. The workshops will be adapted according to age, and no topic will ever be addressed that minors have not asked about before.

Many parents believe that sex education is something private that depends on families, not schools. With the fires still fresh, a rally was held yesterday in the center of Brussels against Evras. Sisora, a young mother of three children, present at the demonstration, considers that talking about sexuality is “something that is done at home.” “It’s not a math class, it’s a sexuality course. What appears in the guide [about Evras] is clear, it will explain to children that if they want they can change their sex, they talk about orgasms and masturbation,” she explains to La Vanguardia.

“They call us fundamentalists, uninformed, that we are the cause of the fires,” cried Nadia, the organizer of the rally, who regrets that the regional government has made the decision due to pressure “from the LGTBI lobby.” The vast majority of protesters rejected the fires; Others, like Elisabeth, consider that, although it is not the way, they regret that it is “the result of the Government not listening.”