The Ministry of Education came under fire yesterday over material that will be used for the gender equality education curriculum in September for elementary and junior high students, which includes presentations on homosexuality, with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) saying that such content may not be suitable for young students.
“The contents of the material are very controversial and the ministry would set a very bad example for kids if they are misguided,” Chu told a press conference at the legislature. “The ministry should not put the material into use until all questions about it have been clarified and both teachers and parents are fully prepared for it.”
Chu was unhappy that the material attempts to explain to students from fifth grade up about different sexual orientations, while also telling students how to discover their own sexual orientation.
“Some of the content in the curriculum may better fit high school students,” Taipei City Teachers’ Association chairman Chang Wen-chang (張文昌) said. “As a professional teacher, I think the content is inappropriate for elementary and junior high school students.”
Union of Taipei Parents’ Associations president Lin Hsiao-yi (林曉儀) agreed with Chang.
“We’re not opposed to [discussion] of the gay issue or the ministry’s curriculum. As a parent, I just think that elementary school kids are too young to learn about it and putting it on the curriculum could confuse them,” she said.
Chu, Chang and Lin called on the ministry to revise the material and postpone the implementation of the curriculum.
Ministry of Education official Ko Chin-wei (柯金尉), who represented the ministry at the press conference, said the purpose of teaching about diverse sexual orientations was to allow students to learn to respect the rights of different people from a young age.
“Teachers and parents are worried because they do not fully understand what it is about. We will put more effort into communicating with the groups so that they can better understand why we are implementing this curriculum,” Ko said.
Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan secretary-general Wang Ping (王蘋), when asked by the Taipei Times for comment, said she fully supported teaching kids about gender issues from a very early age.
“Heterosexuality is often considered by mainstream society as ‘normal,’ and people actually start to discriminate against those who are ‘not normal’ when they are very young,” Wang said.
“For example, you can hear first graders already calling people ‘sissy’ and making fun of them. Therefore, I do think we should start teaching kids to respect different groups of people and to teach them what’s right and wrong when they’re still young,” she said.
Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association chairman Goffy, on the other hand, said those who are against teaching kids about different sexual orientations actually have a “twisted concept” of the issue.
“That ‘twisted concept’ is exactly what gender equality education is aiming to change,” he said.