Recently, a Facebook post by the 17 years old Agatha Tan has made its rounds on the internet. This viral post comes about when Agatha Tan wrote an open letter to the principal of Hwa Chong Institution, emphasizing the school’s sexuality education workshop held in the school by Focus on the Family (FotF) Singapore.
Agatha’s post highlighted issues of gender stereotypes and called it “sexist” after the sexuality education workshop. FotF Singapore is a pro-Christian charity, approved by the Ministry of Education to run its workshops on sexuality and relationships in schools. In defense of the accusation, FotF’s head of corporate communications, Ms Vicky Ho said that “[the workshop] is designed to be a relationship programme to help young people unravel the world of the opposite sex, uncover the truths of love and dating, and reveal what it takes to have healthy and meaningful relationships.”
How should sexuality education be conducted? Everyone of us who has been through secondary schools would have gone through this sort of workshop. It is indeed a necessary course of wholesome education when it comes to growing up and growing out. Yet, is it always about being black and white? Sexuality is a complex issue and it is not a dichotomy. It plays with feelings and we all know feelings are hard to describe and even gauge. It is easy to choose the way out when it comes to sexuality, but this can come off as generalizing and eventually perpetuating a gender stereotype.
How should it then, be “taught”? I would lean to the stand that although necessary, sexuality education workshops are pretty useless in our day and age. Information is available anywhere. The thing about feelings is that it can only be learnt through experience and time, not a 2-hour crash course on relationships and the virtues of life. Do take these workshops with a pinch of salt. Maybe a criticism and analysis after the workshop will be more beneficial and enriching.
The post has since garnered more than 3000 shares on Facebook and a petition was set up by the alumni of Hwa Chong Institution against the conducting of FotF workshop in the school. You can read about the petition here.
Agatha’s post can be found here
Reference: The Straits Times
Writer: Leong Chee Sheng