SINGAPORE — In the wake of the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalized sex between consenting adult males, many questions have arisen about how this would affect society. An article where several educators, as well as some parents, gave their views on whether it’s all right for gay teachers to come out to their students was published in The Straits Times over the weekend.
Entitled, “Is it okay for gay teachers to come out in class? Gay teachers list qualms, parents urge caution,” the article quoted the Ministry of Education. The teachers said it has been beneficial for students to have a safe space and someone they can talk to, although they expressed an amount of wariness in coming out, as this could have unintended consequences. The parents who spoke to ST took a more cautious view, acknowledging that “a teacher’s sexual orientation would not affect their ability to teach.”
Meanwhile, the MOE was quoted in the piece as saying, “Our teachers are expected to discharge their duties and responsibilities in a way that can win the trust, support, and cooperation of students, parents, and the wider community. This includes demonstrating personal character and conduct appropriate for a role model to students, in line with the established norms of our society.”
On the Reddit Singapore page, after a user on the platform posted the article, over 200 comments were made.
“Gay teachers are not oversharing about their personal lives — at least, not any more than straight teachers do. As can be seen from the article, if teachers do come out, they’re doing it subtly, oftentimes in easily overlooked ways or at moments where it may be directly relevant e.g. when prompted to talk about their personal life,” observed one Reddit user.
“It is important for these kids to have a safe space,” underlined another.
“While actively advocating homosexuality (meaning asking students to try it out or whatever) is inappropriate in class, it’s also important to acknowledge and teach students that LGBTQ+ exists and it’s NOT okay to stigmatise them,” wrote one Redditor.
One opined, “I think it’s definitely weird to hide students from the existence of gay people. Like gay people exist, who are you tricking by hiding this ??”
“Exactly, and by hiding the teacher’s identity, schools are inevitably conveying the message that it’s not okay to be gay and LGBT students will feel shameful and maybe also hide their identity. This is not a healthy mentality,” commented another person.
And when one netizen wrote, “There should be a line between your personal and public/school life. I don’t care about your identity, relationship, children or beliefs. This applies to straight people as well…,” in a comment that received many upvotes, another Redditor challenged this view.