[ LETTER ]

Mon, Jan 09, 2017 - Page 6

A chance to change

With the rising awareness of the importance of gender education, my colleagues in Yilan Senior High school last month launched a Facebook campaign “For homosexuality education” (我支持認識同志教育), to publicly state our position in support of teaching students to understand homosexuality more.

Its initial intention is to support the Luodong Senior High School counseling director whose method of introducing homosexual groups to 10th graders has provoked parental objections.

As more teachers from different schools have been joining the activity, the campaign has earned acclaim, but also incurred criticism.

On Thursday last week, Facebook page “Alliance of crying for hope” (搶救台灣希望聯盟) shared photographs with teachers in favor of homosexuality education, adding that it was time for parents to “take action” since those teachers have been “imposing” homosexuality education on students.

Teachers’ photographs have been swarmed with comments from opponents and supporters. On the surface, the teachers have become the object of attack, yet the page has more attention than before.

Apart from the fundamental misunderstandings of homosexuality and sex education, the phenomenon also exposes the underlying tension between parents and teachers over the “responsibility” and the “qualification” of teaching.

Undoubtedly parents and teachers own the responsibility to educate.

However, antagonism appears and deepens whenever either side seeks to dominate or influence students. When it comes to qualification, in this case, a teacher’s understanding of sex education collides with parents’ moral perspectives.

Some doubt that school teachers are professional enough with regard to gender issues and that teachers should not promote sexuality. Some suppose parents hold conventional views and that their ideas are no longer suitable for the changing society.

Teachers and parents share the same anxiety, and it would not be wise to prove who is more responsible or eligible to teach, nor should they suppose it is none of their business.

Rather, the two sides should recognize themselves as equally important to establish a society in which our children are prepared to love, live and work for the rest of their lives. In this respect, teachers and parents should be humble and willing to help each other expand their knowledge of gender issues.

As a supporter of one of the teachers, I do not think of myself as a role model or position myself as an authority. My message is simple: Since gender discrimination causes harm and takes place in classrooms and society, why not give ourselves the opportunity to face it and change it?

Chuang Yu-chuan

New Taipei City