Recently, Hwa Chong Institution, a secondary school in Singapore, held a sex ed workshop. Educating teens about sex is great, right? Well, turns out the whole ordeal was sponsored by our good friends, Focus on the Family. And Agatha Tan, a student who attended the workshop titled "It's UNcomplicated" was pretty taken aback by the rather sexist and bigoted approach to her education.
While sexuality education rarely manages to teach me something that I have not already learnt through past sessions or mainstream media, this booklet was different. From merely glancing through this booklet, I learned a simple yet important lesson: that bigotry is very much alive and it was naïve of me to think I could be safe from it even in school.
YES. THIS IS AWESOME. AND IT ONLY GETS BETTER. She mentions some of the material that was distributed, including this lovely graphic attempting to poke fun at the idea of consent. Apparently the facilitators led a discussion about what a girl "really means," comparing it to the alleged directness of guys.
That's right, they're teaching high schoolers that a girl's words are not enough. They teach that girls are always emotional, but that they can't be trusted to know how they feel about sex. LOL WIMMIN, AMIRITE?
Granted, the facilitators did make clear that these gender stereotypes they were promoting were subject to "some exceptions" and that they should be taken lightly, as a sort of joke. While it is reassuring to note that they have apparently realized not everyone fits into their binary model of a nuclear family that in their opinion youth should be actively working towards, not only did they ignore the presence of these people whenever it was inconvenient to them, but they also adopted an extremely damaging attitude.
Tan also epically tears down the bogus binary the workshop presented, portraying girls as strictly emotional and needy. But seriously, look at this shit:
Oh Focus on the Family. Go fuck yourself.
Tan's graceful conclusion:
I do not mean to imply that the school management has to take a supportive position in the struggle for LGBTQ rights, though in my opinion this would be ideal. Yet even so the school has a responsibility to the diverse school population; even if the school is unable and unwilling to provide inclusive sexuality education for students, it has a basic responsibility to ensure that it is a place free of bigotry where students can at least feel safe to study in without fear of being persecuted for who they are or are figuring themselves out to be.
By engaging the services of groups such as FotF to teach sexuality education in school, the management hence indirectly participates in promoting rape culture, tells students that we should conform to traditional gender roles instead of being our own persons, demonstrates that the acceptance of diversity in people is unimportant, and erases minority groups in the student population.
Tan's post is lengthy, but totally worth the read. Meanwhile, Focus on the Family Singapore has responded with a pretty standard faux-apology, à la SORRY U SUCK LOL:
"It's unfortunate that what was meant to be a light-hearted workshop to engage students was taken out of context and misinterpreted. As an approved service provider, we definitely do not promote a rape culture," said the CEO of Focus on the Family Singapore, Joanna Koh-Hoe.
"We acknowledge that the workshop in question was not perfect, as with even the very best of our workshops, there is always room for improvement. However we believe that the facilitators did their very best in this challenging situation," she added. "Our facilitators' efforts to stay on track may have been misunderstood as imposing certain views and that the facilitator is unconcerned with students' questions."
Oh yes, belittling young women while telling them that they are responsible for their sexual well-being as guys can't be held responsible for their own unstoppable sexual impulses ON TOP OF completely brushing off any LGBTQ interests at all whatsoever (not that that's surprising) was a total and classic misunderstanding. Sure.
All images from Agatha Tan's Facebook.