(Disclaimer: The topic I wish to address today is with regard to the controversial issue of LGBT.)
Despite Sochi olympics having ended, the hype over the world’s growing realization and debate on acceptance (or not) towards the LGBT movement continues. Even Singapore is facing such a crisis. Not so much involved in that of Russia’s, or the world, having to try to deal with the LGBT laws, but more of a national scale – more of an internal sort of grapple with this matter. Recently the Health Promotion Board (HPB) got slammed for their FAQ segment on LGBT, leaving a certain church pastor, a few ministers and quite a bit of the population upset for the answers they have provided. On a more personal note, yesterday I read an article shared by a senior from the school I recently graduated from, coming clean about her sexuality, as well as the traumatic experience during her teenage years.
To avoid landing my school in anymore trouble, or having the students listen to more warnings or talks by the principal during school assembly, or having to face any displeasure and unwanted arguments with fellow peers who will stand up for the school and protect its reputation, I guess I could turn to here to voice my opinions. Fellow readers, please take whatever I am about to say with a pinch of salt – for every person’s perspective varies, and no two people will undergo the same experience.
The secondary school (high school) I studied at was a girls’ school. Most single-gendered schools in Singapore are often characterized to be more ‘westernized’ – modern, open-minded, wilder, and perhaps slightly leaning towards more of the ‘live in the moment’ sort of slogan. Not everyone turns out to be like that, although quite a handful of us are. However, like majority of the schools in Singapore, we were never really exposed much to education on sexuality. Typical of the Asian society, sex, let alone sexual education, was thought to be ‘taboo’ to speak of. Yet, in a girls school, your sexual orientation didn’t matter. Girls are girls, that’s all that cared. The stereotypical threats in a girls school, namely politics, girl drama, etc etc, were there. But just as ‘dangerous’ as it was in being exposed to such environment in such a young age, I learnt that the world isn’t perfect, that people could be vulnerable, and in the process, learning to embrace our differences, as well as noticing that everyone has their insecurities and it’s how we deal with it, that makes us tougher. This toughness doesn’t make us masculine, it makes us beautiful.
Now. Getting through secondary school wasn’t a walk in the park – in fact, it was one of the toughest shit to overcome, especially at first sufgering from the culture shock and adapting from living in a Chinese primary school to living in a westernized secondary school. But in that harsh environment, that’s what made secondary school a true experience of the world, that it can be threatening, damaging, and painful. On the other hand, the process of adapting to studying in a chinese school after attending a very english school proves to be much more trying than the previous transition I overcame.
The Chinese school adopts the Asian ideology – conservative, rich in culture, traditional, overly strict, etc. Sometimes, instead of progression, these ideals deter change, deter advancement. To follow so closely to ensure we could retain such traditions, such culture and hold so firmly to our roots – could adversely affect the growth and development of people. As how it have done to the students – some, not too fortunate, who have been smothered by the system.
I’d share with you my story another time. But for now, I be focusing on the way which the two very different schools dealt with LGBT relationships. For the girls’ school I was in, I’ve known seniors, juniors and fellow team mates who aren’t ‘straight’ – a term used for people with the ‘right’ sexual orientation. So, if you’re one if those LGBTs, you’d be ‘crooked’. But ‘crooked’ or not, you’re still a girl at the end of the day, and that’s all others would see you as. On the other hand, this senior who wrote an open letter to the government was dealt with seriously, undergoing not just disciplinary action but was even ousted, singled out among her peers. Why such a difference? The answer is there – because of the way students have been taught to react to such situations. In fear of the differences, or to embrace our uniqueness.
Unfortunately, Singapore still bends towards the choice to react in fear. Whether we will change or not one day, lies in the hands of our future leaders.