Arson attacks at Belgium schools linked to extremist campaign against LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed

Anti-terrorism and intelligence services in Belgium are closely monitoring the situation regarding the schools targeted in arson attacks.

One of the schools targeted in arson attacks in Belgium, with the side of the building completely burned.
Image: Via X - @Belga_English

At least eight schools in the French-speaking region of Belgium have been targeted in arson attacks or vandalised, with officials believing that the incidents are related to an ongoing campaign by radical religious circles and extremist groups against a sexual education programme recently made mandatory.

The new programme, known as EVRAS, is intended to provide students aged 11-12 and 15-26 with sexual and relationship education. While EVRAS has been available for years, it was not compulsory until now. This year, it was made mandatory in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in Belgium.

Since the Ministry of Education announced that the programme would be made mandatory, the decision has faced strong opposition from religious (both Catholic and Muslim) and extremist groups. On Sunday, September 17, a demonstration was held in Brussels, where around 1,500 people gathered to oppose the sex ed programme. During the rally, speakers expressed anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments and condemned the decriminalisation of abortion.

Participants also chanted anti-feminist slogans and accused the government of wanting to “destroy the family”. One of the main chants at the rally was, “Don’t touch our children”.

According to reports, at the same time as this campaign against the sex education curriculum is taking place, six schools in Belgium have been targeted in arson attacks, and at least two others have been vandalised.


Authorities shared that signs and graffiti protesting the EVRAS programme were discovered in at least four of the torched schools. Several of the targeted buildings were defaced with slogans such as “No EVRAS, otherwise you’re next”.

At the time of writing, no suspects have been arrested in connection to the arsons, and no one has claimed responsibility. The prosecutor’s office in Charleroi, one of the Belgian cities where the attacks took place, launched an investigation indicating that the arsons are linked to “dissatisfaction with the mandatory sex education project.” Moreover, the Belgian National Crisis Centre stated that anti-terrorism and intelligence services are closely monitoring the situation.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo commented on the attacks, saying: “In a democracy like ours, we will never allow our schools to be a target. We live in a country of tolerance, and tolerance means we can have a debate, different points of view, but it can never lead to violence, especially in places frequented by our children.”

De Croo also stated that sexual education has been provided in Belgium for half a century and that the country won’t take steps back. “It’s not new, it’s the basis of sexual health, but also the basis for our children to be aware of their rights and (physical) integrity,” he said.

Education Minister for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Caroline Desir, also spoke out about the attacks, saying: “I would like to call on everyone to calm down and try once again to cut through the lies circulating about the Evras system.

“No, it does not prepare a pedophile system,” Desir stated. “No, it doesn’t plan to make children want to change gender. No, it doesn’t plan to teach children how to engage in sexual activities.”

Mayor of Charleroi Paul Magnette said, “This is barbarism. Attacking public schools in this way is a form of terrorism”. He added, “These are arson attacks on schools, which are sacred places. They are places where children learn respect and tolerance.”

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