Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sexuality Education for Multi-valued Singapore

(Unpublished - April 29, 2010)

I refer to the report on the Education Ministry’s selection of groups to teach sexuality education (April 29).

I feel it is ironic that four out of the six appointed organizations have Christian affiliations, despite conscientious attempts by MOE to have sexuality education in a “multi-cultural and multi-religious” Singapore.

I wonder how fair it is when organisations pass their syllabi off as universal when they already have ideological affiliations and moral prejudices.

In my view, sexuality education should have a polycentric approach, with different perspectives and solutions provided, and not only one set, which is often taken for granted as the only way.

This way, while children get exposed to different perspectives and values in a multi-valued Singapore, organisations of different ideological affiliations and persuasions may have more equal contributions and participation in sexuality education.

More importantly, “sexuality education” should live up to its name sake and engage the topic of sexuality.

Besides providing information and viewpoints on sexually transmitted diseases, pre-marital sex, contraception, strategies of abstinence and negotiation, and other traditional sexuality education syllabi, I feel more should be taught.

These include body confidence, an understanding of erogenous zones of the body, sexual orientation and gender identity.

At the same time, while we may promote the heterosexual married family as the basic unit of society, we should not do this at the expense of families that do not fit the mould.

The obsession with this form of the family overlooks the function of what a family should have – love and safety. Families do their part in cultivating values that befit their own, which in turn lead to contributions to society, economic and political processes.

I hope the six organisations tasked to provide the education do not use guilt or fear to transmit their messages.

Furthermore, I remain appalled at the criticism leveled at Aware’s programme, which was believed to be promoting homosexuality and implying approval of pre-marital sex, positions unfavourable to many monotheistic religions.

The neutral discussion or portrayal of homosexuality does not equate its promotion, neither does the discussion of safe sex equate to approval of pre-marital sex.

Our heterosexist status quo will not be threatened even if we accepted and respected other sexual orientations.

The continual discourse on sexuality education in Singapore simply reveals our maturity to deal with sex. In a multi-valued Singapore, we appear to be less tolerant of views other than our own.

Ho Chi Sam


DK said...

Sex and religion doesn't go well together.

Gary said...

This is election year. Hence, such vote garnering policies. The Christian view on this is closely allied to the majority of Singaporeans whatever their religious affliations.

I agree with you that there is an implication that sexuality education would become in actual fact, abstinence from having sex education.

I truly wonder how does one teaches sexual matters like masturbation without explaining the fundamentals of human sexuality and its concomitant natural urges and how to deal with it. How could the teacher inform her class about such a natural urge without making it 'dirty' by condemning?

totoro said...


"The Christian view on this is closely allied to the majority of Singaporeans whatever their religious affiliations."

I'm a Chinese educated Chinese S'porean and I can confidently tell you that as far as non-Christian Chinese are concerned, the statement is not true.

From my interaction with non-Christian Chinese in S'pore, and from what i've read in the local Chinese media, when it comes to the topic of homosexuality, most non-Christian Chinese hold an indifferent attitude. The same can be said of the Chinese in China, Taiwan or HK.

S'pore's Christian Right such as Thio Li-ann and her gang tried to misrepresent the views of the non-Christian Chinese silent majority and we shouldn't be hoodwinked by them.

Gary said...


In your view what is the non-christian chinese's view?

From the context, you are implying that they are more open to such issues and do not frown on, among others, masturbation?


Greater understanding of sexual orientation can be promoted. Less discrimination and prejudice can be promoted. Promote homosexuality? No way.

Sam Ho said...

well, there's no one way of teaching sex ed. so we need to have a framework that accommodate various teaching approaches.

for me, i'll prefer a topic-focused sex ed. topics would include STIs, body confidence, masturbation, sexuality, gender identity, etc.

and under each topic, we'll provide various views and of course, the scientific explanations.

do need to promote homosexuality, because that's not the point any way. what's more important is understanding sexual orientation as being more than just orientation towards a gender, but actually towards certain aesthetic, cultural and emotional traits

totoro said...


i was referring to the homosexuality issue only. and the word i used was "indifferent". they do not have a strong view on this issue unlike the Christian Right.


Don't promote homosexuality, the Christian Right tells us, as if homosexuality is a kind of lifestyle choice. So Sam, you're absolutely right. People need to be educated on this thing called sexual orientation amongst other things. But that's exactly what the Christian Right don't like. They want our kids to believe that everyone in this world is heterosexual and the gays are just perverts who chose to go against their "heterosexuality"

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