This School’s Sex-Ed Program Got The Axe…And Not For The Reason You Think.
You would think people could teach kids something akin to reality in the age of the Internet. That sadly wasn’t the case in 17-year-old Agatha Tan’s high school sexual education class.
Her school in Singapore didn’t have its own sex ed curriculum. Instead, students attended a four hour workshop on teen sexuality and relationships run by a conservative Christian group. Focus on the Family’s program was called “It’s Complicated.”
The lessons were more complicated than anyone could have guessed.
This is the cover of the workbook. It does not bode well.
The workshop relied on some pretty tired, offensive, and even downright dangerous gender stereotypes. This includes the idea that women don’t mean what they say; they were essentially teaching a group of kids that “no” means “yes.”
“No” always means “no,” everyone. Teaching anything otherwise is incredibly dangerous.
The workshop’s workbook, photographed by Tan, includes a lot of old-fashioned, simplistic attitudes about men, women, and relationships. It states that men are essentially mindless slaves to their hormones, and that women are bundles of irrationality and emotion. The people running the workshop, Tan explained, spent the whole time telling students what a girl “really meant,” while also saying that boys were “direct” and “always mean what they say.” Girls were characterized as insecure, frivolous, and completely dependent on men. Boys were characterized as being devoid of feelings, running solely on hormonal urges, and only caring about sex.
No time was spent teaching realistic relationship issues, and only heterosexual relationships were discussed. “When someone else tried to raise that the facilitator’s views were too narrow and that they failed to consider, for instance, LGBTQ, or polyamorous individuals, he effectively shut her down by saying that her views were not what the audience wanted to listen to,” Tan recounts. The instructors were also quick to call any relationship that was not a married heterosexual one “unstable” and “unfavorable.” It doesn’t seem, based on Tan’s testimony, that instructors made any mention of safe sex or birth control options.
Tan was appalled by the approach, and decided to do something about offensive and harmful viewpoints forced on impressionable students. She wrote a detailed and amazing letter to her principal, including the photos of the workbook you see here. The entire letter is a thoughtful, impassioned call for the administration to take a closer look at what they were exposing their students to. We especially like the closing paragraph:
“By engaging the services of groups such as FotF to teach sexuality education in school, the management hence indirectly participates in promoting rape culture, tells students that we should conform to traditional gender roles instead of being our own persons, demonstrates that the acceptance of diversity in people is unimportant, and erases minority groups in the student population.”
The school responded by not allowing Focus on the Family to return to Tan’s school next year. The school will conduct its own sex ed programs in its place.