Gay judge, gay sex ed teacher

Should gay male teachers be banned from teaching sexuality education?

Opponents of same-sex marriage in California failed at another attempt to quash the ruling  made last year by Judge Vaughn Walker striking down Proposition 8. The latter was a voter initiative that was carried by a slim majority of voters in November 2008, that reserved the term “marriage” for opposite-sex couples only. Supporters of Proposition 8 (i.e. opponents of same-sex marriage) argued before Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware on Monday 13 June 2011 that because Judge Walker was himself gay and in a long-term relationship with another man, he ought to have recused himself from the trial. Having failed to do so, his ruling ought to be vacated.

Judge Ware’s decision was swift. Within 24 hours, he issued his ruling against opponents of same-sex marriage. The editorial in the Sacramento Bee lauded the verdict:

“The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification,” Ware wrote.

Federal judges can be disqualified from a case if they have a financial interest in the outcome, a close friendship with litigants, or a strong personal bias. Ware forcefully reinforced that a judge’s race, gender, religious affiliation and, yes, sexual orientation isn’t enough by itself.

The Prop. 8 proponents insisted that they weren’t saying that Walker, who was randomly selected to hear the case, should have been disqualified just because he was gay. The issue, they said, was that he was in “the exact same shoes” as the gay and lesbian couples who brought the lawsuit to overturn Prop. 8 and could personally benefit from his own decision.

But by their logic, female judges could be challenged from presiding over sexual harassment, abortion or equal pay cases. As Ware asked, would black judges like himself be barred from civil rights cases? Would reverse discrimination cases be off limits to white male judges? Would heterosexual ones be forbidden from taking on gay rights cases? Where would you draw the line?

– Sacramento Bee, 15 June 2011, Editorial. Link.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, five opinion polls in a row have shown that Americans who favour legal recognition of same-sex marriage now outnumber those who oppose it. The latest, from Gallup, showed a nine-percentage point increase since the same question was asked last year.

A nine-percentage-point increase is seismic, but as you can see, it merely extends a secular trend (where “secular” means lasting for a long time).

Other polls showing the same include one conducted by ABC-Washington Post. It too revealed 53% support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage with 44 percent opposed. A CNN poll from April pegged support for marriage equality at 51 percent, while one done for/by Associated Press poll last August showed 52 percent support.

What should be good news for gay activists is apparently complicating the initial plan to put repeal of Proposition 8 on the 2012 ballot. There are increasing arguments against doing so, although this sounds counter-intuitive. Why?

Let me refresh your memory about Proposition 8. After California voters passed it in November 2008, it was challenged in a federal court for violating the US Constitution’s guarantee of equality. Judge Walker ruled that it did and struck down Prop 8. His decision was appealed by supporters of Prop 8 (opponents of same-sex marriage), in the light of which, Judge Walker’s ruling was stayed. Thus, no new same-sex marriages can be conducted in California though previously registered marriages are recognised as valid.

The matter is now under appeal and all expectations are that this question will reach the US Supreme Court sometime in 2013 or 2014. Should Californians put repeal on the 2012 ballot, or wait out the appeal process? With the trends in opinion polls, the chance of repeal is brightening, but so is the chance that the Supreme Court will make a blanket ruling that any ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. While judges are not swayed by public opinion, it is inevitable that there are subtle effects. Public opinion can alter the lens through which judges look at social issues and questions of rights.

Repealing Prop 8 would only impact California. Moreover, once a repeal is done through the ballot, the US Supreme Court would not further consider the case. But if the matter is decided by the Supreme Court in favour of same-sex marriage, then that ruling applies throughout the United States. As chances of getting this ruling from the apex court improves, it is looking like the more attractive option even though it may take longer.

* * * * *

Should a gay male teacher be barred from teaching sexuality education?

If you say he should not teach because professionalism and impartiality is critical to the job, then the next question will obviously be: Why is a gay male teacher not considered professional or incapable of impartiality?

If you say that partiality is the essence of the job, i.e. the purpose of sexuality education is to “promote” heterosexuality and reinforce prejudice against other sexualities, that sexuality education is a form of catechism rather than education (i.e. inculcating knowledge, questioning, self-awareness and responsibility) then the question is: Why is sexuality “education” supposed to be catechism?

The same questions can be asked of the second question in the survey above: Should a Muslim teacher be entrusted to teach a course in comparative religion? And if your answer to the first question is different from that to the second question, why the difference?

35 Responses to “Gay judge, gay sex ed teacher”


  1. 1 blackholesun 18 June 2011 at 10:58

    I answered “Disagree” for every question.

    Why should we assume that bias will be the default? Why should we not? Is it because we know that the person is human? Hence, how is replacing a human with another going to help anything at all?

    Just replace the ‘questionable’ person in every question with someone who we might consider to be neutral. Surely this other person can exercise bias. Failing to see this is fundamentally no different from discrimination.

    When a profession or industry agrees on a system for getting a job done, then we have to focus on how the job is being done, not who is doing it. Again, the familiar chant on transparency and accountability.

  2. 2 grace 18 June 2011 at 12:35

    Hi, I just participated in your survey, but i feel that even though i disagree that gay teachers should not be disallowed to teach sexuality and that a muslim teacher should not be disallowed from teaching comparative religion~ it partly too depend on the individual that is teaching/ preaching and the audience they are teaching/ preaching to. Children from the age 14 and above would be good (i think) as they are beginning to form ideas, definitions etc, any age below that is kinda risky…

    i went to a methodist school for 10 years and an adventist school for another 3 years, all they ever do is to force us to go chapel every week or sometimes twice a week, failing bible studies may also mean you get to repeat the entire semester.

    what i am trying to say is that it largely depend on the individual~ some personal insight from them are good, brings a different perspective etc… but what if it is too much? To disallow them to teach/ preach is discrimination, but they might need certain guidelines or stuff to make sure they do not go off-track.

  3. 3 Ben 18 June 2011 at 19:13

    I answered agree to all questions. The reason being, even if the person is impartial, he has to be perceived as being so. Public opinion matters, if not, Mindef would have allowed more Malays to serve the army instead of Civil Defence.

    • 4 nitegazer 19 June 2011 at 21:55

      I answered disagree to all the questions except the last. I think that public opinion does matter but in many situations involving bias, such as in the case of a gay vs a straight person making a judgment, the straight person is as likely to be biased in the opposite direction.

      However, in cases where its possible to select an arbiter who can be regarded as neutral, such as choosing a non-chinese judge in the last case, it would be prudent to do so. After all, in finals of major sporting events great care is taken to select umpires of a 3rd nationality. It is better to avoid entirely any accusation of bias than to have to justify the selection later.

  4. 5 Denise 18 June 2011 at 21:52

    The survey is splitting hair… and I refuse to answer it.

    If you had just one question that states should any person be discriminated against, due to their sexual orientation, creed, ethnicity, gender or age (which you left out) would it not be sufficient?

    I felt disappointed that these common values had to be split and weighted differently. Why?

    Seems to me even those who felt discriminated carry on with instinctive hate, looking for the next victim, a superiority complex is in all of us, how else would one motivate the psyche? No one likes to be the worm, lowest in the pecking order. And didn’t the story says walk a mile in their shoe?

    • 6 darkwolf312 19 June 2011 at 00:17

      While it is disappointing that people would give these situations differing answers, I think it is realistic that a significant portion of people would view these situations differently. One possible reason could be how much they identify with those in said situations as well as how much bias they believe is inherent in having each characteristic; sexual orientation, religion, nationality, race, and gender.

      Personally, I put disagree for all the options. Everyone will have some form of subconscious bias with regards to different situations. As mentioned in the article, one could as easily state that those of the majority would also be biased. Even with asexuals teaching sexuality education or agnostics teaching comparitive religion, it would be unrealistic to eradicate all form of bias.

  5. 7 Poker Player 18 June 2011 at 23:28

    “Should a gay male teacher be barred from teaching sexuality education?”

    We already have situations (in Singapore schools) where creationist biology teachers announce their non-belief (in evolution) before starting lessons on evolution.

    • 8 eventualities 20 June 2011 at 14:02

      Perhaps announcing the non-belief is not an issue – everyone is entitled to their opinion. The important thing should be that kids need to be taught to hear differing views, understand the “evidence”, if any, for themselves, and know that it is up to them to decide what they want to believe. If everyone does this, and understand that everyone else has a right to their own opinion as long as it doesn’t directly harm anyone else, the world could be a much better place.

      • 9 Poker Player 20 June 2011 at 14:40

        Let’s say I change my comment to

        “We already have situations (in Singapore schools) where homosexual teachers announce their sexual tendencies and practices before starting lessons on heterosexual sexuality.”

        And your reply is the same (mutatis mutandis). Then you would have gotten the point of the article.

  6. 10 Tryathlete 19 June 2011 at 02:15

    It’s true that before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way you’ll be a mile away and have their shoes.

  7. 11 John 19 June 2011 at 08:50

    For most people, a teacher who is gay or lesbian has not behave appropriate. He or she is not a suitable role model for the students.

  8. 12 fatyandao 19 June 2011 at 10:12

    I mostly disagreed with all questions except for the third one regarding hr issues.

    Not sure if It’s due to the liberal immigration policies, but I have seen instances where the Filipino hr manager literally replaced almost all the local staff with Filipino people.

  9. 13 Fredrick 19 June 2011 at 15:11

    Btw, what is the relation for question 2 n below to this article?

  10. 14 Tan 19 June 2011 at 23:00

    The questions are generally very poorly phrased if the issue of interest is bias.

    1. Criteria are experience and being able to relate. Can a gay have the necessary experience and be able to relate to heterosexual relationships? Gays however should not be barred from teaching sex ed to gays of their same type if they have the necessary experience and are able to relate to the same type of gay relationships.

    2. The person asking this question is biased. Criteria is having an open mind regarding religion. Can anyone subscribing to any religion (not just Islam) also have an open mind regarding religion? “Muslim teacher” should be changed to “teacher quite devout in a religion”.

    3. This question is ok.

    4. One aspect of judging is to be able to see things from all points of view. No one judge will be capable of doing so. Every such case should have a male and female judge.

    5. What is the nature of the defamation? If it has to do with ethnicity, it may fall under the same concept as for 4.

  11. 15 Clement Wee 20 June 2011 at 18:07

    Hi,

    I answered disagree for all the questions, except the first one and last one. On reflection, a better survey design might have been to have a running scale, as opposed to a flat yes/no answer. This allows for views by people who feel that some qualifications need to be made for the general point of view that they favour, such as specification of certain criteria. So, on to my answers:-

    (1) Agree. Yes, I know I differ from most people on this forum with regards to the answer, and some people are going to brand me “homophobic” for that, so I’ll qualify my position: I don’t think gays should be banned in principle from teaching sexuality education, but that the current circumstances favour such a ban. If we could have a uniform syllabus for sexuality education, such as we have for mathematics or Social Studies, then there would be no problem. The current issue is that there is no standard, accepted model of sexuality education; there are two opposing models, being pushed by two different groups. It is unfair to exclude either model because of the bias of other group. Due to the current standing of political affairs, it is obvious which group a gay male teacher will be biased against and which group he will be biased towards.

    Also, Alex, I take issue at your polar presentation of sexuality education as either “promoting heterosexuality” or “education”. “Education” does involve questioning all viewpoints, not just the more “conservative” ones. “promoting homosexuality” is as much non-education as “promoting heterosexuality”. Plus, sexuality education should be truly all-rounded, and treat sexuality as a component integrated into the rest of a person’s life, as opposed to one taken out of context. That is the fault of both the “abstinence-only” and the “comprehensive” programs. “abstinence-only” draws a psychological fence. “comprehensive” is obsessed over sex as if it were an independent module. It’s unfortunately quite true that “comprehensive” programs are comprehensive about the different types of sexual activity, the different types of birth control and nothing else.

    (2) Disagree. In the case of religion, there is a standard to judge the teaching of other religions’ doctrines which are well … other religions’ doctrines. Having a Muslim teacher teach comparative religion is okay because the other religious leaders will make noise if their religion is not presented properly. So, unlike sexuality education, there is a standard for comparative religion education.

    Still, your bias seems apparent. I would think that an atheist teacher should not be exempt from the question either. In fact, an atheist teacher is more likely to be biased against any religion nowadays than a teacher of another religion.

    • 16 yawningbread 21 June 2011 at 00:32

      You seem to believe, in an unstated way, that gay people would instinctively want to “promote homosexuality”, i.e. convert people into homosexuals. This is the common denominator behind your responses and arguments being used to justify them.

      On the second point, would you bar an atheist from teaching comparative religion?

    • 17 Poker Player 21 June 2011 at 10:37

      “I don’t think gays should be banned in principle from teaching sexuality education, but that the current circumstances favour such a ban.”

      What are in the circumstances that warrants a ban on homosexuals but not heterosexuals?

    • 18 Gard 21 June 2011 at 17:53

      I was just thinking, wouldn’t the act of ‘banning’ imply a preference of one group over another? – unless all heterosexual and homosexual (and the diverse in-between’s) are equally banned.

      How did we come to the conclusion that it is okay for us to act out of our inherent heterosexist bias against a person because of his sexual orientation, and in the same breath, accuse the person for acting out of his inherent (homosexist?) bias?

  12. 19 ET 21 June 2011 at 23:26

    I answer disagree on all the questions, I don’t see how anyone could answer anything else. As a non-Singaporean I don’t even understand the thinking behind the last question at all. What does the nationality/ethnicity of a judge have to do with a defamation case?

    Some one raised the question of creationists teaching evolution. In theory this should be possible, particularly as many creationists (e.g. the Catholic Church and I think all mainstream denominations, from which I exclude the Pentecostalists) do accept evolution as part of “god’s plan” and reject unscientific notions that the Earth is only 4-6 thousand years old, which is an extreme minority view among Christians.

    But I have yet to hear of a “young earth creationist” who actually understood evolution properly, so how could they teach it? Plus, if they are telling children they don’t believe it, they are really misinforming children and miseducating them into thinking it’s a mere hypothesis, rather than a confirmed “theory” in the scientific sense, a “theory” proven as true as the theory that the Earth travels around the Sun and not vice versa.

    But if such a person could teach it effectively, is it right for them to say “I’m going to show you all the evidence that proves beyond doubt that x=y, but personally I don’t believe it (and therefore by implication you shouldn’t either)”.

    • 20 twasher 23 June 2011 at 06:11

      Two issues being confused here.

      1) Is it OK for a public school teacher to teach evolution but precede her lessons with a ‘disclaimer’ that she does not believe in evolution?
      2) Is it OK for a creationist to teach evolution, given that she will be imparting exactly the same information that a non-creationist would, with no disclaimer etc.?

      Once you have anything like a disclaimer like in the Dover case in Pennsylvania, issues of separation of church and state come into play. (One of the reasons the judge ruled against the school board in the Dover case was that the disclaimer stating among other things that evolution is ‘only a theory’ was deemed to be carrying an implicit endorsement of religion.) But surely 2) is more analogous to the case of the gay teacher teaching sex education.

      • 21 Clement Wee 29 June 2011 at 00:16

        Twasher,

        (1) You are making a category error. The Dover Case was against a school board, because a school board has legal authority to force a curriculum onto students. A teacher who teaches evolution tour force, and merely tells students what his/her opinion is; that is negative; is not forcing anything onto the students; the students are still protected to disagree with their teacher by the same First Amendment.

        Besides, the first virtue education is truth. If the teacher is forced to speak an opinion because he/she fears censure by the Winterval Mafia, then that is violating the Right to Freedom of Opinion as well.

        Case (1) is more like the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses being forced to go for NS (or rather, jailed in DB for refusing to go for NS).

        (2) (2) would be more analogous to the gay teacher teaching sex-education, if there was a uniformly-accepted sex education curriculum. But there isn’t; so the “sex education” that a gay teacher will teach will be different from the “sex education” that a heterosexual will teach, just because due to the lack of an explicit standard, the styles of maneouvre.

      • 22 ET 30 June 2011 at 01:20

        Twasher, I agree, if the creationist can teach the syllabus correctly there should be no problem. I’m not familiar with the case you mention. The problem arises when he/she starts inserting the view of their local pastor on the subject, suggesting that evolution is not to be believed, which they choose over the scientific evidence.

        This of course presumes that the syllabus covers the ground properly and hasn’t been hijacked by religious extremists and their agenda.

  13. 23 Clement Wee 22 June 2011 at 19:38

    yawningbread,

    (1) No, not “instinctively”. But stemming from cultural conditioning. My point is that because sexuality as a subject is polarized between two viewpoints, one either “promotes homsoexuality” or “promotes heterosexuality”; there is as yet no practical middle ground that everybody can be measured against. Unless you are willing to concede that a gay person could “promote heterosexuality”, my point stands. Or else, you are claiming that homosexuals are smarter than heterosexuals, which is a dangerous piece of cultural arrogance.

    And no, “promote homosexuality” doesn’t equate, for me, to converting people to homosexuals; but instead, compelling people to endorse Queer Theory, without questioning it.

    (2) Must see what kind of atheist he/she is first. If he supports people like Michael Ruse or Anthony Flew. If he supports Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens or others like or worse than them, no. In short: If the atheist is willing to objectively compare atheism with religion, and refrain from commenting that atheism is better or more “enlightened” than religion, it is fine for the atheist to teach comparative religion.

    In addition, an ex-religionist of any religion should not be teaching comparative religion either, nor a convert from one religion to another, as he/she might misrepresent the religion he/she left from. A person who converted to religion from atheism/agnosticism is permitted, because the course is comparative religion, not comparing religion with atheism. (For the purposes of argument, humanism is considered a religion.)

    Pokerplayer and Gard,

    The question was on homosexuals, not heterosexuals, so I didn’t mention heterosexuals. What I think is that – at the current moment the best thing is to eliminate sexuality education from the public curriculum entirely. Instead, each student will be required to take some form of sex-ed as a CCA of sorts. The specific sex-ed will be up to the parents: religious people can choose their “abstinence-only” programs and atheists can choose to enrol their children in “comprehensive” programs. Meanwhile, we junk the sexologists and tantra therapists, and start some real research on sexuality as a part of human life, and not a module autonomous of it.

    Who teaches sex-ed will be up to the individual provider. So, on a public, overall level, both homosexuals and heterosexuals would be permitted to teach sex-ed.

    But in a public-education setting, yes, I don’t think a homosexual should be allowed to teach. A heterosexual can be restricted to merely covering biological details of sexuality (biology, incidentally, would not include discussion of birth-control, because that is chemistry.) A out-homsexual – ignoring closets here – would, by very virtue of his/her status, lead his/her students into a line of questioning that would propel them back into the polarized debate. Students are stressed enough with school, as it is, without needing the additional stress of a conflict between their parents and their teachers. So, in the interest of child welfare, homosexuals should be barred from teaching sex-ed at the moment if sex-ed remains in a public curriculum.

    • 24 Poker Player 23 June 2011 at 01:09

      “biology, incidentally, would not include discussion of birth-control, because that is chemistry”

      Even condoms? Oh, the latex…

    • 25 Poker Player 23 June 2011 at 01:11

      “A out-homsexual – ignoring closets here – would, by very virtue of his/her status, lead his/her students into a line of questioning that would propel them back into the polarized debate. Students are stressed enough with school, as it is, without needing the additional stress of a conflict between their parents and their teachers. So, in the interest of child welfare, homosexuals should be barred from teaching sex-ed at the moment if sex-ed remains in a public curriculum.”

      Your “argument” has lots of invisible moving parts.

    • 26 Gard 23 June 2011 at 13:30

      I presume readers answer the question with the underlying assumption of ceteris paribus. That is, given a group of equally competent sexuality educators, should there be an intentional exclusion of someone just based on his sexual orientation and gender?

      Ceteris paribus is a strong assumption. So I can try to relax the assumption, and determine if
      1) intervention is required in cases where gay man’s implied bias distorts what is to be learnt; and
      2) intervention is necessary, ‘banning’ is the appropriate level of intervention. Banning is a strong intervention that precludes the opportunity to demonstrate competence and compliance.

      To the above, I am reminded of the ancient heliocentrism-geocentrism controversy. The society may be justified in her treatment of Copernicus and Galileo Galilei in those days, but there is no excuse for not reflecting about the lessons of what history offers us, for parents and for educators.

      At the very least, perhaps we can agree that any – heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual – teacher who sought to ‘compel students into unquestioningly accept a theory’ is a poor teacher. But whether an (out) gay man’s implied bias suggests that he would thus suppress thinking in his students is not a proven inference.

      I have not given a long thought about how sexuality education ought to be like; but a sexuality education that merely cover biological details sounds like teaching cooking by listing out ingredients, cooking utensils, temperature settings, and procedures, and no (invitation of) discussion of what happens if one of the variables or assumptions was relaxed.

      Clement also made reference to child welfare, an issue that does not too distant from the ones spoken about children raised in homosexual households. The concerns are valid, even today, because these children face stressful situations in the form of bullying and discrimination in schools. Certainly one solution is to disallow homosexual couples from adoption or artificial insemination. Is this the only solution?

      I also feel suspicious about phrases like “in the interest of child welfare” or “for your own good”. If we affirm that bullying and discrimination is not acceptable practice in schools, why are we asking schools to set an example by discriminating against one of the staff who just happens to be openly homosexual?

      • 27 yawningbread 23 June 2011 at 17:09

        You wrote: The concerns are valid, even today, because these children face stressful situations in the form of bullying and discrimination in schools. Certainly one solution is to disallow homosexual couples from adoption or artificial insemination. Is this the only solution?

        By this same logic, any couple with characteristics that make their children likely to face bullying should be disallowed from having children. E.g. traditional sikh families that require their sons to keep their hair and have a small turban. Shall we ban all Sikhs from having children?

        Aren’t we reversing the arrow of guilt here? If A is likely to be a victim of B, then let’s stop A from being A. Let’s excuse B from his behaviour. If women in sexy dresses “provoke” men to rape, let’s require all women to wear tents, cannot go out alone, cannot hold jobs that involve working into the night.

        If kids show any bullying behavior towards other kids from gay households then deal with the bullying, not deal with the gay people.

      • 28 Clement Wee 29 June 2011 at 01:05

        Gard,

        (1) That’s a core assumption: “equally competent sex-educators”. The problem with that assumption is, what is the standard to measure competence by?

        Professional skills? If so, then however much you dislike them, you have to admit that FotF and the Dover Board both have sufficient professional qualifications; even the people at NARTH do (they all have doctorates from ivy-league universtities.)

        Syllabus? In the absence of a convergence between abstinence-educators and “comprehensive”-educators, making a judgement on the syllabus is ideological bias. (This is with the proviso that the syllabus is a public syllabus; not a syllabus in a marketplace of syllabi.)

        (4) Hmm … except that the notion of sexual orientation itself belongs to gender theory. If an LGBT teacher is willing to subject gender theory itself to critical analysis, instead of pedalling it as “progress”, then it is okay for the teacher to be teaching sex-education.

        Conversely, we might argue that gender theory is too complex a topic to be covered at primary five level. (Or say, 5 years old – which is what Stonewall is pushing in the UK.)

        Incidentally, it would also not be okay for a heterosexual teacher to call gender theory “regress” without accepting its positive parts.

        (5) I agree. But I follow a Rawlsian line, which is that that is all a public school education system can be allowed to teach, because that is where the current empirical consensus is.

        Ultimately, the best solution will be to convene a council of representatives from both sides of the debate, heteros and LGBTQQA alike, to work out a sexual education curriculum that takes concerns from all sides into account. As far as I am aware, the abstinence side is willing to have that, but the comprehensive side is too proud of itself to admit that the abstinence side has anything of value to add to the debate.

        Plus, of course, the comprehensive side is bolstered by gigantic MNCs, e.g. Durex has almost the networth of Shell. Unsurprisingly, these MNCs are afraid of losing profits, so they are likely to shout down any arguments from the abstinence side. “Sexual Health” is a great advertising slogan to replace “Fuck as much as possible, so we can get all of your life earnings”.

        (6) Except that I am being agnostic to the parentage of the children in the first place. It could be either an LGBTQQA teacher being cornered by a student’s hetero parent, or a hetero teacher being cornered by a gay/lesbian couple. The former probably does happen in Singapore, and the latter is starting to happen in the UK.

        This has nothing to do with an argument over the suitability of parents of either sexuality – or of either opinion towards gender theory – to raise children. While bullying is an important issue, it is not the issue I am discussing here.

        (7) No, I am not asking for discrimination. I am asking for the removal of sex-education as a public syllabus. I don’t agree that a school should sack a biology or art or English or maths teacher because he/she is GLBTQQA; that is discrimination. But sex education is a totally different ball-game. I have no idea why you are making this unwarranted generalization.

      • 29 Clement Wee 29 June 2011 at 01:32

        Alex,

        “sexy dresses” are a different category from Sikhs. Rape is wrong in any circumstances, but if the woman wore the sexy dress with the knowledge that it is sexy (admittedly, there are some men with very peculiar fetishes), then she is at least partially to blame for attracting attention to herself. The logic behind a sexy-dress case would be the same as the logic of the police advising elderly people against wearing chains so that they will not be victims of theft.

        Also, Bullying should be dealt with – and firmly. This doesn’t necessitate though identifying special “victim classes”, which then discriminates against everyone else who is bullied for some other reason. We should deal with the root cause of bullying, not the surface topics. After all, children can bully each other for the most ridiculous things ever.

        Put it this way, let’s imagine a case. A schoolgirl who was seriously tormented for her weight decided to commit suicide. What a bad tragedy, and obviously due to bullying. (“tormented” here includes teasing and ragging, and all the stuff in between.) As a response, the school decided to pass an anti-bullying policy, that marks “fat people” as a protected class. The school becomes zealous in looking for people who discriminate against fat-people. Sounds decent. And then, because it needs to be consistent, it starts targetting policies and syllabuses. First, it abolishes the TAF programme, because TAF makes fat students feel bad about their weight. Next, it bans the use of the phrase “chilli-puddy” by any member of staff or student because that implies certain stuff about fat people. It stops policies monitoring calorie intake at canteens; because naturally fat people must take in large amounts of calories. Next, it starts cracking down on students who recommend vegetarian diets to their fat teachers or classmates; this is obviously not appreciating the value of fatness. Because the bullying problem has gotten so serious now, the school instigates corporal punishment and expulsion for fat-related offences. It subjects discriminators to forced-feeding; theory: all people who criticise fat people are anorexics who need to eat more.

        So, now, we can say that the school has finally achieved total equality for fat people, albeit after having lost a quarter of its staff and a third of its student-body due to fat-related offences. We could go on to say that this school starts to pressure MOE to photoshop all illustrations in textbooks to show fat people, instead of thin people, and discriminates against sports teams, because it believes that sportsmen and sportswomen have “repressed fatness” that they take out on the field. Particularly, bodybuilding and athletics are banned in this school.

        Moral of the story: If you want to deal with bullying, deal with the psychology of the bullies, not with their actions or opinions.

      • 30 Poker Player 29 June 2011 at 10:34

        ““sexy dresses” are a different category from Sikhs.”

        No they are not. Post Sept 11, US policemen would ask you to avoid redneck areas if you insist on turbans.

      • 31 ET 30 June 2011 at 01:04

        The replies from Clement Wee, though lengthy, appear to be little more than smoke, mirrors, logical inconsistencies and some plain untruths made to sound convincing.

      • 32 Gard 30 June 2011 at 19:17

        Clement,

        (1) The core assumption is a constant question that confront educators in other subjects, not just sex-ed. E.g., history, languages and less obvious, the physical sciences. You are right in pointing out that, teaching is not mere transmission of content. A good educator is not just measured by academic qualification (content knowledge) but also, like you said, the skills to inspire critical analysis in students.

        (5) Convening a committee is one solution. Another solution is to establish independent longitudinal studies into the sex-ed marketplace, to gauge their desired outcome. (They are not mutually exclusive solutions.)

        In addition, it is not always true that public education plays the waiting game for convergence to take place in society.

        “MOE explains plan to put gay issues on school curriculums”
        – 4 May 2011, Taiwan

        http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?ID=201105040039&Type=aSOC

        Of course one could argue the political motivations behind this move that is contrarian to Asian family values; but because of the controversy, the teaching has to open itself to the keenest scrutiny from parents and teachers. I highly doubt that the most liberal-minded, gay-friendly parents would allow unquestioning and dogmatic forms of teaching go unchallenged.

        (7) You stated: “In the interest of child welfare, homosexuals should be barred from teaching sex-ed at the moment if sex-ed remains in a public curriculum.” If this statement is not considered to be discriminatory or stereotyping, even with your caveats, I don’t know what else to call it.

        Let’s suppose sex-ed would remain in public curriculum, in whatever form it takes, in the near future. Would this be a reasonable assumption, even if it’s your wish to see it gone?

        By your clause, (open) homosexuals are therefore barred from teaching sex-ed. As a matter of public discriminatory practice, this needs to be carefully considered and explained as we expect public schools to be transparent. Even if this is not publicly disclosed, any systemic exclusion of (open) homosexual teachers would eventually expose the practice. Public servants have to consider the implications and anticipated questions from the public, parents and the teachers themselves:

        i) What would be the policy towards closeted homosexual teachers of which school management are aware? Would they be barred as well? How about bisexuals?

        ii) What would be the policy towards the appointment of school counselors who have to deal with students’ personal issues? Could (open) homosexuals with the necessary qualifications and training be appointed so?

        iii) There is a prevalent idea that a teacher’s job does not begin and end at the classroom doors. Since off-classroom teacher-student dialogue is to be expected, would there be any further restriction placed on (open) homosexual teachers in such dialogue setting on top of existing restriction for heterosexual teachers?

        These are not questions to be wished away just because of a stated policy of non-employment discrimination. The symbolism of teachers as ‘role models’ and their ‘open’ homosexual lifestyle would have created a profound dilemma for schools discriminating them on sex-ed and not discriminating them on employment. The Otto Fong 2007 episode would have highlighted how difficult it is for a (open) homosexual teacher to survive and thrive in a conflicted system that exists today.

        Your silence is all that is needed to allow discrimination to persist; your justification of why certain group of teachers should be barred from sex-ed in public schools merely add legs to the imaginary venomous snake.

  14. 33 Clement Wee 22 June 2011 at 19:44

    ET,

    (1) If the judge is of the same race as the prosecutor … That, coincidentally is a feminist contention as well.

    (4) Yes, it should be fine, except that the “by implication” might be replaced with “I’ll let you decide for yourself”. Besides, if you are an American, preventing the teacher from expressing his/her own view is a violation of the First Amendment. American atheists need to drop their First Amendment Exceptionalism, seriously.

    • 34 Poker Player 23 June 2011 at 15:10

      ” American atheists need to drop their First Amendment Exceptionalism, seriously.”

      Atheists are not the problem. Those who want the church mixed up with the state, want exactly that – church. But Hindi temple? Too bad. The people who put in the First Amendment knew what they were doing.

      http://wn.com/hindu_prayer_in_senate?upload_time=all_time&orderby=relevance

    • 35 ET 30 June 2011 at 00:55

      I’m sorry Clement, but your reply makes no sense at all. What does the race of any of the parties have to do with the issue being decided? And what on earth does feminism have to do with it?

      As for the second point, a teacher showing children that he or she clearly prefers superstition to scientific evidence could surely be detrimental to the education of the children concerned, quite apart from the fact that he/she cannot have understood the evolutionary process correctly and could be teaching it wrongly. A student will simply understand from the statement that the theory has not been proven, whereas it has.


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For an update of the case against me, please see AGC versus me, the 2013 round.

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