KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 14): Civil society movements have labelled Putrajaya a “bully” for endorsing a set of questionable guidelines to help parents recognise “gay and lesbian symptoms" in their children at an early stage.
Seksualiti Merdeka co-founder Pang Khee Teik, in a hard-hitting statement on Friday, pointed out that the discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender was detrimental to individuals and the public.
Instead of using education as a tool to deal with issues of inequality and prejudice that minority groups are subjected to, Pang rebuked the ministry, saying that it is “only interested in teaching hate, promoting inequality and playing politics”.
“The Ministry of Education is now officially a bully. It must stop this inhuman campaign against vulnerable children.
“It should teach all children to be confident and to respect each other no matter who they are. We are ever ready to consult with the Ministry personnel if they are willing to listen to more reliable studies about LGBTs (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups),” said Pang.
News of the guidelines surfaced during an Education Ministry endorsed seminar in Penang. Two organisations, Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad and Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, suggested the guidelines for tackling the LGBT problem.
The guidelines warned parents and teachers to watch out when their sons start wearing tight-fitting sleeveless t-shirts, among others.
Pang said comprehensive studies have recorded findings to show that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity can result in greater harm to the children.
The Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) also criticised the approach saying that it “merely serve to legitimise prejudice and bigotry in our society”.
Its president, Sharifuddin Abdul Latiff, said that the ministry acted in a manner not mandated by law, when its duties only revolve around providing “academic opportunities and infrastructure at all levels of the social strata for every Malaysian citizen”.
Citing the ministry’s objective, Sharifuddin stressed that there is nothing about “prequalification on acceptable behaviour of students” as part of the criteria.
“Actions like this go against the admirable spirit of the Ministry’s vision and mission statement because it engenders discrimination within our schools,” he said.
He added that the mental and emotional trauma subjected to children will be “incalculable” when students are already battling problems with “identity crises and peer pressure”.
Meanwhile, Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad (YGMB), which had led the forum in Penang on Wednesday that sparked the controversy, clarified that the “symptoms” guidelines were merely “an explanation for teachers on how to cope with the problem”.
YGMB coordinator, Hasnul Hadi Abdullah Sani, told news portal Malaysiakini that the forum was just an awareness programme.
The forum was co-organised with Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations.