Wed, Jun 03, 2009
The New Paper
Sex Ed: What parents want schools to teach

WHEN Madam Haslinda Putri Harun's younger daughter, 6, used the word 'lesbian', it caught her by surprise.

The housewife, 38, recalled a recent incident when another classmate kissed her child on the cheek.

She said: 'My girl told her 'stop it, I'm not a lesbian.'

Madam Haslinda had to then explain to her that the other girl was just doing it as a friend, just as how her aunt kisses her.

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'Already in her mind, there's this thing, that girls can't kiss other girls,'she said.

That loss of innocence is something Madam Haslinda laments.

She recalled that in her own childhood, she would bathe and sleep together with her girl friends in school and think nothing of it.

She said: 'I'm really upset, now there's a stigma and parents have to figure out when something is acceptable, and when it isn't.'

She acknowledged that sex education is more pertinent in these times, more so than ever before.

She said a welcome consequence of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) saga, was that parents were now more conscious about the need to educate their kids about sex.

She said: 'This has opened people's eyes and ears and made them realise this is something that you have to address.

'You can't say let's go have ice cream instead when the topic comes up.'


The three parents we spoke to agreed that the following areas have to be covered when it comes to sex education - the sex act, sexually transmitted infections, contraception, masturbation, pornography, homosexuality and, most importantly, sexual morality and values.

But Mr Sebastian Anthony, 45, a corporate trainer, feels strongly that the messenger - the person teaching sex education - is just as important as the message.

He said: 'My concern at the end of the day is who is delivering the message.

'Not everyone shares the same value system so the question is, how do we cater for that?'

For instance, how do you tackle the issue of whether homosexuality is morally right, asked Mr Anthony.

He said: 'Is same-sex marriage all right? It's not science or maths, you can't just take a neutral stance.'

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to sex education, he suggested a more tailored approach.

He mooted the idea of having the ministry allocate funds and allowing parents to sign up with external groups or religious organisations that share their core values when it comes to sex education.

While this may put the onus on parents, Mr Anthony said parents shouldn't rely on schools all the time.

He said: 'There comes a point in time when people need to take accountability and responsibility for their own lives.'

Ms Chelsia Leung, 32, a financial consultant, suggested allowing parents to opt out of certain areas of the curriculum that they are not comfortable with.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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