The open letter to
the Association of Czech Social Service Providers

love is love by Sharon McCutcheon, Pexels

UPDATE - The reactions published in the Social Services magazine

To Association of Czech Social Service Providers.

we, the signed social workers as well as people from the public, would like to defend against the interview published in the Social Services magazine no. 1/2021 which is made under your auspices.

This interview with Ms. Jochová from the Alliance for family and Mr. Schneider from the APSS ČR, conducted by the editor-in-chief Ing. Cibulková as well as the president of the Association Ing. Horecký, provided space only for the conservative view on parenthood and child rights, which enforces the concept of "traditional family", refusing equal rights to the LGBTQI+ couples, the rights cisheterosexual couples have by law. The interview is clearly one-sided, it promotes many myths about LGBTQI+ people and it doesn't even follow the basic journalist values of balance and neutrality.

Taking into account that your magazine profiles as a professional one, targeted to social workers and most of the Czech social services are subscribed, we believe it is not a space for the enforcement of this kind of groups, whose views are in stark contrast with ethical principles valid not only in social work - the principles of equality and equity, no stigmatization and no prejudices and respect to uniqueness of every human being. Professional magazine targeted to professional audience should also respect the rules of science methodology and it should not give space to opinions without evidence. The more we are concerned that such text is these days massively distributed to providers of social services.

You talk about freedom of speech in your reaction, which was published even sooner than this letter was. The freedom of speech means no one can be prosecuted by law for their opinions, it does not mean that respectable media should publish one-sided interview enforcing lies that do harm upon marginalized people. They harm the most vulnerable of the population, our clients. You write about respect. Respect is a significant value for us, as well as for social work ethics. We see a show of respect to freedom of speech in publication of our letter at your website and in your magazine, in order to provide space for a view from the opposite side of the opinion spectrum. Even if you call our side "mainstream", it still is important for balanced journalist work.

In the interview there was mentioned much biased information, many untruths, half-truths and outright lies and hoaxes without presenting a view that could set the record straight. We feel that it should not be missing in a professional magazine. You are publishing opinions many times refuted on pages of an official magazine of the biggest inland professional organization shielding social services and social workers. The enforcing of these opinions demonstrably harms the rights of children and adults and most importantly the clients of social services.

The name and concept of "activism" is used in a pejorative meaning throughout the text. We would like to remind you that without activism, social engagement and long lasting fight for human rights being applied to everyone without the difference of skin, politics, sex, gender or sexual orientation, there would be no social services nor social work. People with any social or physical handicap would be displaced and pushed to the margins of society.

The activities of the Alliance for family are focused against LGBTQI+ people, against movements suppporting them and against equality. It is ironic you gave paid ad space to methodological materials about supporting LGBTQI+ clients in the same issue when the main interview is focused against the understanding and acceptance of people of marginalized gender or sexual orientation.

And now for the specific texts we have specific reservations towards and we would like to put them in perspective:

  • “After the WWII the Czech Republic started to build a pre-stage of communism, so-called real socialism. Even there started from the marxist ideas realizing of so-called equality of women and men.”
  • “The western countries have not gone through the gory experience of building the real socialism,so that is why there some ideas realized with the price of blood behind the iron curtain did live through and modified into attractive forms of human rights protection, radical feminism and gender studies.”

We do not consider this appropriate when you put into level of argument a comparison of totalitarian crimes and the evolution of human rights perception, without any additional commentary. Equal human rights are the foundation of ethics, an integral part of social work.

  • “Even our law system clearly perceives the point of marriage in raising children. The fact there are childless couples does not diminish the purpose of marriage. (...) An alliance of same-sex couple can never fulfill this basic purpose of marriage (...) We assume that a redefinition of marriage weakens, even directly devalues, the significance of parenthood.”

If the childless or childfree couples do not diminish the point of marriage then same-sex couples can easily fulfill its meaning. We assume that our society is mature enough to accept the fact that same-sex couples can guarantee sufficient and satisfactory environment for upbringing children, as well as the fact that the idea of "marriage" is broad enough to contain alliances of same-sex couples.

Same-sex couples do raise thousands of children in the Czech republic. Nobody can deny that for the development of a child is incomparably better a family upbringing compared to an institutional care; social work should stand up for them and support them, not to join in societal stigmatization of them. There is no proof that the gender combination of man and woman would be the ideal parenting couple, that the ideal family constellation for the upbringing is an institutionalized marriage of mother and father. Children do thrive the best in families without conflicts, with high level of cooperation, trust and cohesion, warmth and care, high level of social connections and support, regardless of the arrangement (written according to Procházka, 2014).

To cite the opinion of Czech experts: “Regardless the fact there are thousands of children growing up with only one parent in the Czech republic, there is agreement in the expert community that a sexual orientation does not affect the ability of being a good parent. There are dozens of studies confirming this. The fears of lack of male or female role models are unjustified, there are many variants of methods of upbringing children today and no model does automatically lead to pathological development in the child or any dysfunction. The key for healthy development of a child is having parents who love them,pay attention to them and they can solve issues and support each other.” (Mertin, Kozubík a spol., 2019)

  • “A change of the content of school curriculum has occured here, the sex stops being a clear biological cathegory, it is replaced by the idea of gender and everybody can choose their gender as they feel and this is being tolerated between children. Can you imagine what a confusion it is going to cause in the upcoming young generation? Who will they grow into?”
  • “We came across this diagnose [transgender people, aut. note] through some parents even in the 1st year of a Czech elementary school and we are intensively interested in this problem since. (...) After the so-called gender dysphoria is diagnosed even juvenile children are given so-called puberty blockers so it is easier to "remake" them into the opposite sex. It is a huge atrocity to the children and also a great business for all the manufacturers of the blockers and hormones because they produce lifelong users of their products.”

At this point we are once again appalled by this way of providing space for the proliferation of false information - which was the main reason for this open letter. During this time when our Ministry of the Interior as well as European institutions (European council) make recommendations in the fight against misinformation able to cause harm in the public space, there are theories being published in a professional medium although they do not have support in verifiable sources of information. Nekola et al. called this kind of performance a “hasty generalization” (Analysis and Creating of Public Policies, Slon 2007).

Ad absurdum, we could ask the seemingly serious question if the prostate cancer is a business of urologists and a pharma lobby because the patients are given hormone blockers. Not to mention that sex and gender, as two very different concepts, should not be confused in an professional magazine.

The extremely negative impact of gender dysphoria on the mental health of children and teenagers is scientifically proven, as well as the effect of transition availability and acceptance from society on the incidence of suicidality among LGBTQI+ adolescents. People who were refused transitioning in their youth for some reason are struggling with their own identity as adults, they suffer from depression, addictions and other mental health issues. We would like to refer to „The recommended procedure for sexologists in care for transgender patients" / "The recommended procedure in care for the youth with gender identity disorders" from the Sexologist Society of Czech Medical Association of J. E. Purkyně.

  • “Same-sex couples often mistake love for the child with a right to have a child, they make a business item out of them, mostly when they use surrogate mothers which is actually the only way how the same-sex couples can get a child.”
  • "In the United States, there was founded an organization of children who were conceived this way (...) They are basically blaming the system and the activists that they allowed the desires of adults to be preferred at the expense of helpless children."

We express our concern about the message the magazine sends to the professional as well as laic public by this interview. We ask, what should have been the outcome, the purpose, the main theme of the interview? We consider the main theme of social work in general being the respect for the differences of our clients (not only in ethnicity, religious or political views, but also the sexual orientation). On the other hand as we see it, this interview establishes a belief that there are "second class citizens" - that is obvious when Ms. Jochová puts the reproductive function on equal footing with the ability of upbringing a child, when the same-sex couples are pointed fingers at for viewing children as "business items", which is an unethical stigmatization. Mr. Schneider's belief that „children mostly need a father and a mother“ makes an impression that only the so-called "traditional family“ (in the imaginations of the interviewed respondents it is apparently only a father - cis man and a mother - cis woman) is able to provide healthy development of a child. If we are talking about the plea that families of same-sex couples cannot fulfill the mother/father roles, it was refuted by Thorová, K. (2015) in her publication. She states that the role of the other parent is represented more in a same-sex couple than amongst single parents, who are allowed and able to fully care for their child.

Also the psychologist Olga Trampotová or the couple therapist Mgr. Jan Vojtko do say that the upbringing in same-sex couples is absolutely standard. The only danger he sees here are the reactions of the neighbourhood. The statements towards this issue made by Ms. Jochová do enforce the negative views of same-sex parents as well as the unjustified stigma deepening the unnecessary tension.

To explain the essence of our letter, let us confront this part of the argument with other countries. Surrogate mothers are an issue also e.g. in the United States, where it is common amidst same-sex couples as well as the heterosexual ones, if they cannot conceive a child because of medical or other reasons. It is as common as foster care is here in the Czech republic. Also at the moment when Czech same-sex couples can legally start fostering or adopting children, the need for surrogation is going to decrease.

  • “According to LGBT activists a sexual orientation cannot be affected by being brought up by two homosexuals. At the same time gender theories say you can choose your sex (within the meaning of gender). However, that would contradict their claims. What role do you think the sexual orientation of parents plays in the development of a child?”
    (the editor-in-chief Ms. Cibulková)

This is absolutely misleading suggestive question which is very beyond the edge of journalistic ethics and it surely does not belong in a magazine appearing to be a professional one. Also we have to point out that it does not make sense because sexual orientation, gender and sex are three totally different concepts. Sexual orientation is a spectrum, not a bipolar value, and although you can discover yours throughout life, it is not affected by the environment - it is genetic. We cannot choose our gender identity because it is innate, as well as sexual and romantic orientation. However it does not have to correspond with the biological sex assigned after birth. The basic rule is not that people can "choose their gender", but that we need to respect their identity, the gender they identify with.

  • “The scientific research about these things is so desperately politicized that if someone gets other results than the activist community wants, they get under fire.”

In this citation we see a practical example of labelling - Ms. Jochová labels a group of people assigning them a particular behavior, disabling further discussion. She does not allow a possibility it could be untrue and accuses opponents of illegal changing of research. All of this with the negative connotation she gives to the word "activism".

  • “Today due to political pressure everything is done in order to disown the environmental and societal impact on the development of sexual orientation, the borders between "masculinity" and "femininity" are blurred, which causes an increase of sexual confusion amidst adolescents regarding sexual orientation.”
    (The president of APSS ČR Mr. Horecký)

The sound of the introduction to the bonus question asked by the president of the Association we perceive as a straw man. The claim about some political pressure is not evidenced by a specific case to make it look like it is a generally valid fact. Ing. Horecký did misuse of a media space in a "subordinate" magazine to promote his own subjective opinion. As a matter of fact, there is no verifiable environmental effect on sexual orientation; by almost every study it is found to be innate. On the other hand e.g. a study published in Journal of Sex Research (Kaestle, 2019) is deducing something completely different than what is being said by all the participants in the interview. "Sexual confusion" is a popular theory supporting moralist panicking, however it does not correspond to real experiences of professionals working with youth. It is natural to deal with their sexual and romantic attraction in the adolescence and it is difficult in a heteronormative society where differences are stigmatized. The Horecký's question itself implicitly suggests that there is something wrong with nonheterosexual orientation.

We believe there will be found space for publishing our letter in your magazine as well as on your website, so the opposite point of view gets a word on these issues. As well as the cited opinions did.

Kind regards,

Bc. Michaela Nepejchalová, social worker
Mgr. Jiří Novák, DiS., social worker
MUDr. Martin Morong, doctor and researcher
Mgr. art. Ondřej Moučka, chairman of the association OLLOVE z. s.
Petr Konečný, DiS., social worker
Mgr. Jan Vojtko, therapist and author
PhDr. Kateřina Thorová, Ph.D., psychologist
Ing. Magdalena Šubrt Thorová, head of the National Autism Institute, z. ú. (NAUTIS)
Bc. Teodor Brzák, social worker
Tomáš Mottl, nurse
Bc. Anna Charvátová, social worker
Mgr. Martin Titman, therapist, head of the Low-threshold facility Drop In, o.p.s.
Bc. Kateřina Matušíková, DiS., social worker
Mgr. Jiří Procházka, secretary of the Association of Czech Marriage and Family Counsellors, z.s., the contact of PROUD
The Platform for equality, acknowledgement and diversity, z. s. (PROUD)
JUDr. Lucie Hrdá, lawyer
Mgr. Katarína Durkáčová, therapist and psychologist
Mgr. Adéla Šípová, senator and lawyer
Bc. Natálie Špičková, social worker
Mgr. Dagmar Lavrenčíková, Care service Rokytnice in Orlický mountains
Georgia Hejduková, student and activist
Bc. Michaela Švarcová, student and specialist in diversity and education in corporations
Matouš Vrána, student of chemistry for medicinal application
Dominika Sedláčková, religionistics student
Karolina Konečná, law student
Mgr. Eva Horáková, nurse and Prague representative
Mgr. Ondřej Čalovka, social worker, addictologist
Mgr. Gabriela Fatková, Ph.D., assistant professor
Mgr. Jana Šatánková, social worker
Mgr. Dana Kumpánová, social worker
Bc. Eliška Fuksová, zoology student
Bc. Tomáš Mikuška, production engineer, traditional husband and father
Bc. Jana Logrová, social worker and student
Ing. Vendula Pohlová, social worker
Bc. Pavla Neuwirthová, social work student
Aneta Ečeková-Maršálová, city councillor
Bc. Václav Mráz, an European research center specialist
Vojtěch Hála, high school teacher
Valerie Plevová, social worker
Michaela Berkovičová, social worker
Alice Dix, Marketing & Content Partner
Bc. Mikoláš Opletal, social worker
Bc. Anna Kupcová, social work PR
Mgr. Petra Vytejčková, lawyer
Františka Jirousová, Ph.D., author
Petr Eisner, head of Czech Sexual Trustees Union Nebuď na nule, z.s.
Mgr. Miroslav Šubrt, psychologist
Mgr. Monika Hillebrandová, shelter director
Radka Janebová, social worker, assistant professor
Mgr. Ivana Velčovská, university specialist, Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences
Mgr. Kateřina Nováková, psychologist
Mgr. Kateřina Fumferová, social service lawyer in Citizenship and Human Rights Counseling Center, z.s.
Jana Valdrová, Ph.D., linguist
Milan Brož, security officer
Iva Baslarová, university teacher
Kristýna Burdychová
Hana Grygarová, psychology student, member of the advisory board for the rights of people with disabilities, trance DJ
Ágnes Němečková, social worker, parent consultant
Petr Klásek, social worker
Mgr. Pavla Svobodová, social worker
Tereza Baudišová, DiS., social worker
Lukáš Děkanovský, student
Bc. Lenka Strouhalová, social worker
Claire Klingenberg, director of European Council of Skeptical Organisations
Mgr. et Mgr. Klára Vožechová, psychologist and therapist
Blanka Kissová, cultural anthropologist
Jan Pospíchal, student
Laura Henderson, art therapist and researcher
Mgr. Hana Šimáčková, head of the NEBUĎ NA NULE, z.s. - Czech Sexual Trustees Union
Mgr. Tereza Dvořáková, activation field worker and teacher
Mgr. Karolína Žitková, social worker
Mgr. Barbora Mendlová, activation field worker
Bc. Jakub Sachr, social service director
Bc. Alena Hajšmanová, social worker
Mgr. Kateřina Trčková, activation field worker
Mgr. Taťána Vacovská, administrative worker in a non-governmental non-profit organization
Mgr. Jakub Chabr, activation field worker and PR worker
Lukáš Bronec, social worker, student at University Hradec Králové - Department of Social Work at the Faculty of Philosophy
Mgr. Nina Mertová, social service director
Terézia Holcová, social worker and student at the Faculty of Philosophy UHK, Social work in preventive services
Mgr. Iva Peterková, project manager at proFem - Center for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence, o.p.s.
Eva Michálková, project manager
MgA. Bc. Dominika Hrbková, cameraman and editor
Mgr. Bc. Petr Pavlíček, social worker
Kateřina Žďárská, social worker, student at University Hradec Králové – Department of Social Work at the Faculty of Philosophy
Magdaléna Erdingerová, social worker, social work student
Barbora Alexandrová, social worker
Tereza Frintová DiS., student at FF UHK
Mgr. Štěpán Hejzlar, head of social service
Lukáš Gilányi, social worker
Bc. Šimon Plecháček,head of professional social counselling, social worker
RNDr. Michal Pitoňák, Ph.D., researcher
Mgr. Lenka Bittmannová​, special pedagogue and therapist
PhDr. Mgr. Josef Vošmik, social worker, coordinator, lecturer
Mgr. Kateřina Šulcová, director of a home with a special regime
Ing. Renata Němcová, Ph.D., head of social service Supporting Independent Living
Václav Skalický, psychology student at PedF UK
Mgr. Ivan Prouza, lawyer in social services
Lucie Jandová, social work student
Mgr. Radka Lipertová, high school teacher
Bc. Markéta Kráčmarová, physiotherapist
Andrea Protivínská, fulltime caring for a family member
Bc. Martin Boxan, director of a educational and grant institute, social service supervisor
Mgr. Dominika Šešerová, psychologist
Marie a Kateřina Marešovy
MUDr. Vendula Svobodová, doctor, member of OSLOVENÍ, z. s.
Mgr. Iva Fryšová, social worker, Rytmus - from a client to a citizen, z.ú.
Pavla Baxová, head of Rytmus - from a client to a citizen, z.ú.
Mgr. Barbora Petráš Kampová, social worker
Jana Andrysíková
Jaroslav Kubín, biology student PřF JČU
Marie Mrvová, M.A., oral historian
Bc. Veronika Bukovská, social worker
Michael Daniel Jettmar - community social worker, chairman of Czech Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, z. s.
Lucie Čechová, social worker
Mgr. Jakub Kaláb, software developer
Dan Nepejchal, web developer

Head of the Život 90 - another open letter