Gay groups in China are up in arms over a sexuality education booklet that education authorities in Hangzhou plan to deliver free of charge to students and parents.
The book, entitled “Parents, Please Walk Your Children Through Puberty” was jointly published by the parenting unit of the Hangzhou Education Bureau and Hangzhou Education Research Institute.
The authors of the booklet classified homosexuality as a type of “sexual deviance,” and called on parents to “prevent homosexuality.” They also wrote:
Because homosexuals are not accepted by prevailing social customs and moral standards, they tend to be anti-social and eccentric. They are also starkly different from normal people in terms of outlook on life and views on morality. These problems are evident in their relationships with each other and in their relationships with other members of society. Preventing homosexuality requires a good social environment.
The book also promoted the view that reparative therapy was possible, provided the “sufferers of homosexuality” possessed a “strong desire to change” and “willingness to practise self-control”.
The stance adopted by the writers, say gay activists, is at odds with the position of the Chinese Psychological Society and the World Health Organisation on homosexuality. They have called on the Hangzhou Education Bureau to immediately recall all books and to stop giving them out to parents and students.
LGBT right groups have started a campaign to write protest letters to Hangzhou authorities. 18 mothers of gay children have also written an open letter to the education bureau, quoting the position of the World Health Organization and Chinese Psychological Society that homosexuality is not a “sexual deviance” and requires no reparative therapy.
Wang Long, a Hangzhou-based gay activist told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that once these textbooks are delivered to children and parents, they are very likely to be regarded as the truth and this will mislead the public.
The publishers of the book have since offered a mea culpa for their “oversight” and have offered to remove offending statements from their booklet.
Hang Siping, chief editor of the textbook, said, “In the course of writing and publishing this book, we have not consulted a lot of materials on homosexuality. It was inevitable to have words that some have considered discriminatory. This is also my fault as chief editor.”
Amendments would be made in the textbook’s second edition, due to be published in October. “In my editorial comments, I suggested that we should remove all of the offending passages. If the section on homosexuality proves to be that controversial — and we would not dare to make our own judgements on it — then we’d rather completely leave the subject out,” said Hang.
In 2010, a similar uproar erupted when the Yunnan Province Education Bureau instructed schools to teach an abstinence-only programme, ‘No Apologies’, designed by an American Christian right-wing group, Focus on the Family.