Booklet tells parents to 'prevent' homosexuality in Hangzhou

Families of gay men and women in China have expressed their anger at a sex education booklet given to parents of teenagers that describes homosexuality as a type of "sexual deviance".

About 50,000 copies of Parents, Please Walk Your Children Through Puberty have been distributed in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, since last year.

The book is designed to aid parents whose children are going through adolescence. It was jointly published by the Hangzhou Institute for Educational Research and Northeast Normal University Press.

But parents of gay children have complained about the booklet describing homosexuality as a type of "sexual deviance" and calling on parents to "prevent" it.

One passage in the book reads: "Because homosexuals are not accepted by prevailing social customs and moral standards, they tend to be anti-social and eccentric."

On Aug 27, 18 mothers of gay children wrote an open letter to the Hangzhou education bureau, which is responsible for the institute, calling for the booklet to be immediately recalled, its distribution stopped, and the parts about homosexuality to be revised in its second edition.

"They (parents of gay children) are in a better position to protest the book than LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) right groups, as it was made for them," said Hu Zhijun, a staff member at the China branch of the gay rights group, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

He said Hangzhou's sex-education booklet is not unique in China, and many teaching materials contain wrong information about gay people.

"The editor of the book, who is also a well-known educator from Zhejiang province, shouldn't use her profile as a specialist in the field of sex education to broadcast false information about homosexuality," Hu said, adding that more than 18 family members with gay relatives had contacted him wanting to join a protest about the booklet.

Fan Xiyun, 56, of Fujian province's Nanping, is one of them. Her 24-year-old son, Zhang Lingxuan, revealed his homosexuality last year.

"I've got no idea how much he has gone through all these years, especially in high school - he was beaten by boys at the school, but the school didn't punish those who should be punished and expelled my son," she said. "I blame all of these problems on the current educational system."

Fan said people in her generation received a conservative education, which contributed to their attitude toward homosexuality, but "so many years have passed and there should be change and an update in the educational system".

"That's why I'm so angered by what happened in Hangzhou," she said.

Hangzhou media reported that the second edition of the book will be released in October.

"In my opinion we should delete all chapters about homosexuality if it's too controversial," Han Siping, chief editor of the book, was quoted as saying.

"During the editing process, we did not do enough research about homosexuality. As the chief editor, it was my negligence of failing to maintain a strict standard in editing," she said.

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