Hwa Chong student's post over 'sexist' relationship workshop goes viral
Agatha Tan's lengthy Facebook post about the problems that she had with a workshop that was conducted by a Christian charity group, Focus on the Family, stoked a small fire in the online community here in Singapore.
The Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) student's post, an open letter to her principal Dr Hon Chiew Weng, has so far been shared more than 1,600 times from her page since she put it up on Tuesday morning (Oct 7).
In her articulate post, which ran over 2,300 words long, she criticised how the workshop, conducted on Oct 3, had been tasked to a Christian group that is known for being socially conservative and seemed to be promoting sexist and "traditional gender roles" in society.
A society where the the females are "fragile and need guys’ support" and that males are portrayed as "guardians who can ultimately do no wrong even when they are evidently doing wrong."
Perhaps her greatest criticism came when she called the workshop out for sending a message that one "should always assume that a girl means something else (like “yes”) when really she just means “no”, something which she said promotes "rape culture"
By engaging the services of groups such as FotF to teach sexuality education in school, the management hence indirectly participates in promoting rape culture, tells students that we should conform to traditional gender roles instead of being our own persons, demonstrates that the acceptance of diversity in people is unimportant, and erases minority groups in the student population. - Agatha Tan's conclusion in her Facebook post
Judging from the responses that her post received, her views were well supported online.
Photos: Facebook screencapture
Focus on the Family says
When contacted, Focus on the Family defended the workshop that it conducted, saying that "the curriculum is based on well-researched material by various trusted family life and relationships experts."
It also adds that the workshops have been positively received by the students with 85 per cent rating their workshops as being "Good" or "Very Good"
They, however, did not respond to a TNP query about the number of schools the workshop was previously conducted.
It’s UNcomplicated is not a sexuality education program. It is designed to be a relationship program (sic) to help young people unravel the world of the opposite sex, uncover the truths of love and dating, and reveal what it takes to have healthy and meaningful relationships. - Spokesman for Focus on the Family
Hwa Chong says
Hwa Chong Institution said that the aim of the workshop, part of the Relationship Module, was to educate students on healthy relationships and that it was conducted by Focus on the Family Singapore, one of the providers appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
The school also said that it is in touch with the relevant student to understand her criticisms and that it will also seek feedback from the general student population.
The school provided information on the programme and gave parents and students the option to opt out of the workshop. We are in touch with the student to understand her feedback and would also gather feedback from the other students.- Hwa Chong Institution spokesperson.
What do you think?
Should Focus on the Family, a charity organisation that has links with a global Christian Ministry based in the US, be roped in to conduct a course on relationships in a school in Singapore in the first place?
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Source: Facebook, Focus on the Family