Thu, Jun 23, 2011 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Teach diversity early

As a subscriber to the Taipei Times, I was glad to read Wang Ping (王蘋) (“The rainbow flag that just won’t fly,” June 15, page 8) discussing how schools should teach gender equality. I would like to extend Wang’s argument by stating that calling a teenager “sissy,” “damn homo” or “butch” is far more serious than it appears.

According to Joel Burns, a US politician who is famous for bringing up the issue of suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, lots of teens commit suicide having been sexually bullied by their classmates because of their sexual orientation. Although the situation in Taiwan may not be that serious, I still feel we should try every means possible to prevent Taiwanese teens from suffering the same agony.

Wang made a lot of sense by pointing out that when the Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法) defines terms like “sissy” as taboo, it does not help teach students the right attitude toward different sexual orientations. As well as teaching gender diversity in schools, I think it is important to teach our children to be confident of their differences so that whenever they encounter sexual bullying, they will have the assurance to fight back properly, instead of having to bear groundless shame.

As a student who has studied the impact of picture books on children and knows that the inculcation of gender equality should start as early as possible, I believe a good beginning would be to instill gender diversity and confidence in kids by reading related picture books. For example, boys should not be depicted wearing blue all the time; instead, pictures of boys with longer hair, in pink shirts or playing with dolls should be acceptable. By getting used to these non--stereotypical images, children are more likely to be open-minded toward gender diversity and learn that they are actually allowed to be different.

Most important is that adults, especially parents, should shoulder more responsibility for homophobic attitudes. Children and teenagers are like sponges, absorbing whatever they hear and see. Therefore, being good role models is more influential than simply teaching the rules. Television programs, newspapers and other media are supposed to educate the whole public to respect and value different sexual orientations. Otherwise, even though the next generation is ready to let the rainbow flag fly peacefully, parents will still turn away from it.

Thanks to Wang for directing our attention to gender equality and the correct way to fight the sexual bully. Let’s hope Taiwanese will begin to not only accept diversity, but also to welcome it.

Y.J. LIAO

Taipei

Misdirected priorities

Since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) started his re-election campaign, he has attended many ceremonies, including one dance show in a costume and mask and this year’s Golden Melody Awards. This is a “show” — a strategy to get young people’s votes.

Obviously, his outlook for re-election is not very promising after a shaky and lackluster three-plus years in office has brought down his support among young people. Now, he is especially ubiquitous at occasions geared toward wooing young people and their votes.

However, when it comes to tackling national issues, like the Typhoon Morakot disaster, the food scare and national sovereignty, he is either slow in action, takes no action or is sometimes even nowhere to be seen.

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