Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sex ed: The day I got 'suan' by Su' An 2

Straits Times Forum couldn't publish my response to Yeo Su' An. Any way, there are more important things to talk about than sex education.

I was joking with my wife that Singaporeans ARE already practising abstinence. We harbour such bad impressions, opinions and stereotypes of the opposite gender that we don't bother engaging the opposite gender romantically.

On an unrelated note, is it constitutional to proclaim one's abstinence from religion?

(Unpublished - Nov 12, 2008)

Sex education: Letter writer doesn't care if he's neutral

I thank Yeo Su' An for her letter (ST, Nov 10), her criticism and her input for our sex education.

I must state that I have never claimed any objectivity and neutrality in my suggestions, which are contested by Yeo.

Moreover, there is no where in my letter I have mentioned the inferiority of abstinence nor engaged with that topic.

My main concern is two-fold:

1) Children and youths deserve more information from various sources on sex education. Sex education, also a form of literacy, should be broad base.

2) The fair representation of groups, religious and secular, in sex education, because all who have a stake in our society deserve to be heard.

We should have sex education for our children and youth, for their sake – not for us or for the respective social groups and institutions with which we politically or spiritually align ourselves.

The rhetoric of “moral fabric”, “abstinence” and their accompanying values may resonate with most of us, some more positively than others.

However, this does not guarantee our children and youth sing along to the same tune.

At the same time, instead of spending time and resources pointing fingers and identifying possible ills, we should pool together various ideas and resources, including Yeo’s suggestions, and consolidate them for the purpose of the young.

In a diverse and growingly media literate Singaporean youth community, I have contextualised sex education, and believe that any branch of it should not be passed off as universal, absolute or superior, as this ‘silences’ other types of sex education.

As I anticipate a possible race for sex education between groups and parties contesting for their own legitimacy, a situation in which our young will ultimately be the losers, I feel again we should combine various resources for the cause.

Furthermore, I personally choose not to define the young according to the measures of the “rational” adult, because if we were to do that, we will only engage in a one-way authoritative monologue with them.

Our underestimation of youths and our overestimation of the problems at their level only point back to us and the decisions we have made.

I stand by my proposal we provide them with information and choices, rather than orders.

I also stand by my point that we should “behave like we are part of (the information age) and engage information with an open mind”.

Ho Chi Sam

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