MOE’s About-face

On April 24, the press reported Dr Thio Siew Mien expressing concern about the content of the sexuality education provided by AWARE in schools.

Examples furnished by TODAY and verified by AWARE:

  • Anal sex – can be healthy or neutral if practiced with consent and with a condom.
  • Pre-marital sex – people might place pre-marital sex as negative, but it is really neutral.
  • Homosexual – people have different preferences for their partners. Homosexuality is perfectly normal. Just like heterosexuality, it is simply the way you are.
  • Since lesbian, gay and bisexual people are not ill or abnormal, they don’t need to be “cured.” These are not abnormalities or perversions; they are orientations or preferences, just like being left-handed or right-handed.

On April 29, the Ministry of Education said it has not received any complaint from parents. It also said that the contents of AWARE’s program adhered to guidelines.

Anthony Yeo, Consultant Therapist at the Counseling and Care Center, who has collaborated with AWARE before, came out swinging the next day, parroting the same sentiments.

On May 3, a retired Methodist Church Bishop said he has no problems with the content of AWARE’s sexuality education program. He chairs the Chen Su Lan Trust, whose donation to AWARE made it possible for the organization to conduct its Comprehensive Sexual Education in schools.

However, yesterday, the Ministry said it will put in place more stringent processes to ensure that training materials and programs delivered in schools are in line with its framework on sexuality education.

MOE said its framework reflects the mainstream values of Singapore society, where the social norm consists of the married heterosexual family unit. It added that schools do not promote alternative lifestyles to students.

On AWARE’s sexuality education program, the Ministry found some aspects of it positive, while other parts did not conform to guidelines.

It cited as positive examples such as role-play practice for students to say no to sex. However it found other instances, such as some suggested responses in the instructor guide explicit and inappropriate, as they conveyed messages which could promote homosexuality or suggest approval of pre-marital sex.

One moment the program “adhered to guidelines” and the next moment they “did not conform to guidelines”.

Willie Cheng, former head of Accenture said: That homosexual acts remain illegal in Singapore should be sufficient grounds for MOE, let alone AWARE, not to proceed with such course content. MOE has yet to fully account for its support of AWARE’s sexuality program in its current form.

Pardon the pun but obviously someone has cocked up.

Perhaps an apology is in order?

Or is that too much to expect?

Ah, well, it’s probably easier to squeeze water out of rocks.

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