Fri, Sep 21, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Gender rights group praises Kaohsiung City Government

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Gender equality advocacy groups yesterday welcomed an official letter issued to schools and universities by the Greater Kaohsiung Education Bureau that it does not recommend adopting conservative perspectives with religious origins in gender equality programs.

“Curricula provided by religious groups on chastity that oppose premarital sex are not suitable for gender equality education programs in the city,” the letter said. “Please use caution when selecting social or civic groups to make presentations on the subject.”

The Greater Kaohsiung City Government is the first government institution to issue a clear statement providing guidelines for gender equality education. The letter follows controversies involving conservative Christian groups, who formed an “Alliance for True Love” that opposed teaching about homosexuality in schools and advocated teaching chastity and abstinence.

The campaign triggered criticism from human rights, gay rights and gender equality advocacy groups.

Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan secretary-general Wang Ping (王蘋) welcomed the decision.

“I agree with the city government’s handling of the issue,” Wang said. “It’s meant to keep traditional conservative perspectives on sex out of campus, and could help maintain a more diverse environment in education.”

A more open-minded education curriculum in gender quality could help protect the rights of women and men, Wang added.

Taiwan Gender Equality Education Association chairman Cho Keng-yu (卓耕宇) — a teacher at Kaohsiung Municipal Chung-cheng Industrial High School — also welcomed the decision, albeit with some reservations.

“It is symbolic, since [the city government] is one of the few government authorities that has expressed its view on the issue,” Cho said. “The notice serves as a reminder for school administrations.”

However, Cho said he would wait to see how educational institutions will respond to the guidelines.

“Getting a letter from the Education Bureau is one thing, putting it into practice is another,” Cho said. “The school could just choose not do anything because it’s not legally binding.”

Based on his own experience, school officials could be pressured by certain groups, especially because a lot of schools are facing budget shortages, he said.

“Life education and gender equality education programs are required by the Ministry of Education. However, many schools don’t have the budget to hire extra teachers for such programs,” Cho said. “Many conservative groups, sponsored by religious organizations, can provide free teachers and a free curriculum — which school administrations are happy to accept,” he said.

Cho said that he is supportive of the new measure, but would wait to see if it is really put into practice before celebrating it as an achievement.

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