Parents, Taipei city councilors and lawmakers yesterday called on the Ministry of Education to address what they said were volunteers using morning recess at schools to instill religious beliefs in students.
Several city councilors had already raised concerns that volunteers from the Rainbow Family Life Education Association — nicknamed “rainbow moms” — were allegedly using recess to teach students at elementary and junior-high schools material that is religious in nature.
The “character and life education” courses by the association have been taught at schools for two decades, data provided by the parents showed.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
More than 600 elementary and junior-high schools nationwide have been affected, the parents told a news conference in Taipei organized by Green Party Taiwan members and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, as well as DPP and New Power Party Taipei city councilors.
They accused the association of using recess, a gray area in terms of regulation, to “enter campuses and spread religion.”
One parent identified only as Grace said that while the association says its course material is public, parents must spend money and attend preparatory sessions to see it.
“What kind of teaching material needs to be this mysterious?” she asked.
Another parent, who wished to be identified only as Lulu, said that rainbow moms not only write Christian doctrines on blackboards, but also ask students to memorize them.
Calling the situation “unacceptable,” she urged the ministry to use Article 6 of the Educational Fundamental Act (教育基本法) to intervene.
Taiwan’s religious freedoms should not be abused, DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said.
The use of morning recess to “forcefully instill religious thought in students” goes against the concept of religious freedom, she said, adding that the parents fear that by speaking up, they might face threats from religious groups.
A parent identified only as Emma said that even though she is worried and afraid of the potential backlash from religious groups, she feels that if she does not stand up, many parents would continue to be left in the dark.
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