Along with Saturday’s elections, citizens will be able to vote in 10 referendums, five of which are concerned with same-sex marriage or gender equity education.
Three of these referendums were proposed by groups that do not support LGBT people and two by pro-LGBT groups. Interestingly, many parents support one of the referendum propositions submitted by the anti-LGBT side.
Referendum No. 11 asks voters whether they agree that the “gay and lesbian education” called for by the Enforcement Rules for the Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法施行細則) should not be taught in elementary schools and junior-high schools.
This begs the question: Is the Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法) not supposed to safeguard gender equality? And if it is, what harm could the “gay and lesbian education” that the act calls for possibly do to future generations?
As defined by Article 2 of the act, gender equity education means “to generate respect for gender diversity, eliminate gender discrimination and promote substantive gender equality through education.”
In plain language, it is for schools to teach students to respect those of a different gender or sexual orientation and to prevent gender prejudice and bullying.
The referendum concerns Article 13 of the enforcement rules, which stipulates: “The curriculum related to gender equity education ... shall cover courses on affective education, sex education and gay and lesbian education in order to enhance students’ gender equity consciousness.”
One could say that the point of “gay and lesbian education” should be to tell students that LGBT people should receive the same respect and rights as everyone else.
A quick online search will produce examples of existing textbook content about “gay and lesbian education.”
The Central Election Commission’s Web site and the Executive Yuan’s declared opinions about referendum No. 11 also explain the purpose of the “gay and lesbian education” that the act says should be provided, in terms similar to the above.
Again, one must ask what could be inappropriate about teaching such a course.
The Council of Grand Justices has confirmed that same-sex marriages should be safeguarded by law. No matter whether it is done by amending the Civil Code or drawing up a special law, as soon as such legislation is enacted, same-sex marriage will become a reality in our society.
Furthermore, social networks have developed to the point where it is almost impossible to suppress or control the flow of information in Taiwan.
Elementary and high schools are relatively capable of giving fair and objective guidance to their students.
If we say that schools cannot mention LGBT-related issues in their teaching materials, and instead leave children to be bombarded by possibly true and possibly false information via TV, the Internet or other media, might that not more easily cause children to get bad attitudes and mistaken ideas, and might it not tend to encourage undesirable consequences such as bullying and gender prejudice?
If something already exists, but we are unwilling to understand and encounter it, it can only lead to more suspicion and misunderstandings. That is probably not the outcome that people want to see.
Whether you accept the above points of view, we all undoubtedly care about what happens to the next generation.
Let us hope that before going to vote in the referendums, everyone who has the right to vote can fully understand what “gay and lesbian education” really entails.
Anderson Chang is a judge.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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