The Italian government has blocked a survey which was researching instances of homophobia, racism and sexism among young people after it was criticised from “promoting sexual fluidity.”
The University of Perugia was conducting the anonymous survey on teenagers studying in the central Italian region of Umbria on a number of topics surrounding LGB+ rights.
Participants of the survey were asked to indicate their nationality, their religious beliefs, political affiliation and sexual orientation. Nowhere in the survey is transgender or gender identity mentioned.
The sexual orientation options were “exclusively heterosexual, predominantly heterosexual, bisexual, predominantly homosexual, exclusively homosexual, asexual.”
They would then be asked to indicate the degree to which they agree with a series of statements including: “Women get offended too easily,” “homosexuality is a psychological disorder,” and “immigrants take Italians’ jobs.”
A section of the survey also asked whether the respondents have been involved in bullying as either a victim or perpetrator.
“Research on homophobic bullying, racism and gender-based violence helps to understand the environment students are exposed to at school and the level of safety each student experiences compared to their peers,” the survey’s lead researcher, Professor Federico Batini, told PinkNews.
The survey was distributed to over 50 schools in the region but was met with criticism by local politicians who accused it of “promoting sexual fluidity”.
A councillor for the region Claudio Ricci said the questions had the potential to infringe on families’ “educational freedom” on the “very difficult issue” of sexual orientation. “[The survey] implies a message of uncritical approval of sexual fluidity (homosexual pseudo proselytizing),” he protested, quoted in local news outlet Terni Today.
Local outrage soon turned national as Senator Simon Pillon, one of the founders of the anti-LGBT+ movement ‘Day of the Family’ or ‘Family Day’, weighed in on the episode.
“Hiding behind the fig leaf of homophobia, the survey seems to actually want to promote a style of sexual fluidity,” he said, quoted in the local publication Corriere dell’Umbria.
Education minister Marco Bussetti gave in to the protests, declaring a halt on survey distribution on Sunday, December 9, according to reports from the Corriere dell’Umbria.
“We blocked [the survey], we have asked [researchers] to review its formulation,” the minister told the news outlet, claiming that a number of schools had rejected the questionnaire.
Batini is hoping to restart the research and has removed questions that requested respondents to declare their sexual orientation after a headmaster objected to their inclusion.
Speaking on the interference of Minister Bussetti, Professor Batini, said: “It undermines the autonomy of [academic] research in Italy, which is protected by the constitution,” he was quoted as saying in the Corriere dell’Umbria.
“A lot of lies have been said,” Batini continued, insisting that the survey distribution had not yet begun and that participation to the questionnaire was voluntary.
He added: “This controversy was stirred solely over issues of a political and ideological nature.”
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