San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 4th 2017- Yesterday Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares signed into law Senator Zoe Laboy’s Senate Project 171 whose purpose was to “propose the development of a pilot project in schools directed at promoting gender equality and prevent discrimination in public schools throughout Puerto Rico; determine the number of schools which will participate in the project and other things related to the execution of the project.”
We at Ateistas de Puerto Rico are satisfied with the decision of Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares, Senator Zoe Laboy, as well as Julia Keleher the Secretary of the Department of Education, and the rest of the people who make up the team formed to come up with, develop, and execute this project. This initiative is quite promising for the people in this country, in which sexism has continued to cause much grief and violence. Gender based social inequality and other related conflicts and injustices that continue daily.
Shirley Rivera, president of Ateistas de Puerto Rico had this to say about the project: “I am very satisfied with the approval of the project by Senator Zoe Laboy, because it promotes gender equality among students, who in time will become the work force of Puerto Rico as well as the parents of the next generation.” Ronaldo Torres a spokesperson of the organization says: “And just like we have criticized certain acts and projects of the government in the past we are also eager to recognize and congratulate the government when it turns positive proposals into exciting projects and laws.”
Gender equality has been a controversial topic on the island, precisely because of the lack of education related to the topic. That has led to many groups throughout Puerto Rico, the majority of them being fundamentalist groups, have distorted the concepts of equity, equality, gender perspective, and others, to boycott projects like this which might have had or might have benefits for our children, women, and other citizens. That is to say: all of our citizens. With this law, we begin the process which will establish the steps we need to take to progress in this area and for that reason we urge the people and specifically those public workers working on this project to not be convinced by these organizations attempting to keep us from moving forward and embracing gender equality.
We want to add that atheist activism doesn’t suggest or support the prohibition of religious practices or religious thought, just that we defend freedom of religion, and that we understand that decisions related to theistic ideas and religious practices are an entirely individualistic decision which cannot be coerced onto people and ought to be voluntary. Religious practices and beliefs belong in the private spaces of religious believers and ought to not interrupt or impose on the space of others and the public.