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Young students need gender equality education in Taiwan: groups

2011/05/12 16:58:55

Taipei, May 12 (CNA) Several civic groups on Thursday called onthe Ministry of Education (MOE) to continue to push for a genderequality curriculum in Taiwan following concerns over the inclusionof gay rights and sexual orientation topics in the new curriculum forelementary and junior high students.

In Taiwan, gender equality-related courses are currently taughtin senior high school. But a new MOE directive is trying to changethat. The ministry plans to introduce the topic in September inelementary and junior high schools, with the aim of teaching childrenand teenagers to understand and respect diversity in sexualorientation from a young age.

Several human rights and gender equality groups gathered onThursday in front of the MOE, chanting slogans to urge the MOE tooppose the homophobic atmosphere created by legislators and religiousgroups that oppose the new curriculum.

"Teaching students about sex, their body, sexual orientation andhomosexual rights is one way to help prevent sexual bullying inschools, " said Lai Yu-mei, secretary-general of the Gender EqualityEducation Association, one of the main organizers of the event.

Lai presented results of an online survey conducted by the TaiwanTongzhi Hotline Association on May 10. The survey showed that 30percent of the nearly 1,000 respondents said they have been sexuallybullied in junior high school, while another 20 percent said theysuffered a similar fate in elementary school. The survey was open toeveryone, not just to those who are gay.

"We can only root out gender bullying if more and more studentsknow about homosexuality, " Lai said. "The gender equality curriculumwould not be complete if homosexuality is excluded from it."

Liu Shu-wen, a professor from Chang Gung University, who hadbrought her daughter, an 8th grader, to Thursday's protest, saidchildren need to learn to appreciate the differences between eachindividual.

"The more teachers teach sexual orientation and homosexuality atschool, the more likely students will come to respect each other, "she said, adding that she teaches gay issues and sexual orientationat home, and her lessons do not turn her daughter gay.

Earlier last week, legislators across party lines, as well assome parent groups, criticized the MOE's stance, claiming these kidsare too young to learn about homosexuality. They argued that theteaching of sexual orientation could confuse or misguide elementaryand junior high school students.

(By Hermia Lin)