betty July 18, 2022

SINGAPORE – A Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) staff member who gave a presentation on sexuality containing discriminatory content to students has been reprimanded and suspended from delivering such lessons.

The presentation content was not approved by the school.

In response to queries from The Straits Times on Monday (July 18), a school spokesman said HCI is aware of the incident, which happened last Wednesday.

The spokesman said: “We are aware of the incident which took place during a presentation on sexuality where a staff member incorporated content outside the scope of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Sexuality Education curriculum into his slides.

“The views presented were the individual staff’s personal perspectives and not representative of the position of the school or MOE.”

The staff member is understood to be a male school counsellor and to have delivered the presentation to the school’s Secondary 4 cohort. A portion of the presentation contained content casting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in a negative light.

According to images of the presentation that have gone viral on social media and were seen by ST, the staff member shared slides containing unsubstantiated claims such as how some homosexuals have problems with intestinal worms and how a proportion of them are paedophiles.

The slides also associated homosexuality with problems such as alcoholism and sexual assault.

The spokesman added: “We take a serious view of this incident and have met up with our students to address their concerns. To ensure that such incidents are not repeated, we will also review our processes.”

In a statement to the media, LGBTQ community group Pink Dot SG said the presentation used fabricated statistics and gave misinformation about the LGBTQ community that is harmful and aimed at instilling fear and shame. 

It said that to chalk this incident up to the actions of one rogue counsellor ignores systemic issues of inadequate sexuality education.

It added that schools in Singapore have repeatedly evaded accountability on matters of sexuality.

“For instance, educational institutions have on more than one occasion turned away LGBTQ performers and speakers by pointing to non-existent MOE regulations or to supposedly ‘inappropriate’ content,” it said.

Pink Dot added that it is important to ask what safeguards are in place to prevent similar incidents from recurring and to ensure that counsellors and teachers do not perpetuate misinformation and fear-mongering against the LGBTQ community.