Costa Rica’s education minister Edgar Mora Altamarino resigned his post following protests by students against policies including his support for gender-neutral bathrooms.

Edgar Mora announcing his resignation as Minister of Education

“The difficult, convulsive and complex times, summon to compose harmony between thoughts and emotions, are not a good time for despair or even for hope, and they demand from us a lot of prudence and a lot of patience.

“In a country like Costa Rica, no one should have an excuse not to be placed in a position of support for the rule of law, and its multiple individual and collective guarantees, which are neither divisible nor postponable,” as Mora read in his letter of resignation tendered Monday to president Carlos Alvarado during a press conference at Casa Presidencial.

In the protests, this past week in various parts of the country,  included members of the Pentecostal Christian-aligned opposition party, as well as transportation and education groups. They criticized Mora on multiple fronts, including his proposal to allow transgender students to use the bathroom according to the gender with which they identify.

The now former minister received a warm hug from President Carlos Alvarado at the end of reading his long resignation letter at Casa Presidencial

The 2018 election cycle was marked by clashes between Pentecostal Christian candidate Fabricio Alvarado Munoz over his criticism of same-sex marriage and what he called “gender ideology” that he said was promoted by the centre-left ruling party.

Costa Rica is famed for its laid-back way of life and progressive environmental policies. But it is also a bastion of traditional Catholic values, with a fast-growing evangelical community.

Former minister Mora identifies as an atheist.

The Academic Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Public Education (MEP), Giselle Cruz, will assume the position of interim minister.

Giselle Cruz assumes, on a temporary basis, the post of education minister

Cruz has experience as a primary grade teacher and in academic work from different positions within the ministry. In addition, she was national advisor of Evaluation of Learning, head of the Department of Educational Evaluation, assistant director of Curriculum Development and director of Curricular Development at the institution.

The appointment of Cruz, albeit in on a temporary basis, appeases to the demands of protesters that the new education minister has experience as a teacher.