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Ng Wei Kai
The Straits Times
July 18, 2022
A Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) school counsellor has been reprimanded and suspended from conducting sexuality education lessons after making a presentation containing discriminatory content to students.
The presentation content was not approved by the school and his views do not represent the school’s position, said an HCI spokesman in response to queries on Monday (July 18).
“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 spokesman added.
“The views presented were the individual staff’s personal perspectives and not representative of the position of the school or MOE.”
The staff member, who is understood to be a male school counsellor, had delivered the presentation to the school’s Secondary 4 cohort last Wednesday (July 13).
A portion of the presentation contained content discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.
According to images of the presentation that were shared on social media, the presentation slides contained unsubstantiated claims such as how a majority of 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 HCI spokesman said the school takes a serious view of the incident, and will review its processes to ensure such cases are not repeated.
HCI principal Pang Choon How addressed the Secondary 4 cohort on the incident on Monday morning.
In a recording of his address obtained by The Straits Times, Mr Pang acknowledged students’ concerns about the presentation and told them the school counsellor’s views were personal and not representative of the school’s position.
He said: “We appreciate and emphasise respect and empathy for all, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status.”
A Sec 4 student who spoke to ST on condition of anonymity said that while the presentation’s content was inappropriate, the school community is generally inclusive, including towards people from the LGBTQ community.
In a statement, 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.
To chalk this incident up to the actions of one rogue counsellor ignores systemic issues of inadequate sexuality education, the group added.
Pink Dot also said 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.
ST has contacted MOE for comment.