Saturday, 16 May 2015

Distinguish between helping gays and supporting an agenda

SOME people, including some university student groups, have assumed that the solution to help youth with same-sex attraction is to push for the cause of affirming their alternative sexual identity at all costs.

These groups include The G Spot (Yale-National University of Singapore College), tFreedom (Tembusu College, NUS), Gender Collective (University Scholars Programme, NUS), Kaleidoscope (an independent Nanyang Technological University group) and Out To Care (Singapore Management University).

Yale-NUS College also organised an Ally Week in March to support the ideology that alternative sexual identities must be affirmed.

As a counsellor with more than a decade of experience helping youth with same-sex attraction, I urge caution against such an assumption.

Even in countries where same-sex marriage laws have been passed - for example, in Denmark - the quality of life of homosexual individuals has not improved.

Rather, married homosexuals have been found to die at an age about 20 years younger than their heterosexual counterparts.

This statistically significant difference cannot be ignored by anyone who truly cares for homosexuals.

It makes all sense to ask: Why do homosexuals affirmed in their alternative sexual identities, and even those who are married, not enjoy the same quality of life as their heterosexual counterparts?

This should eventually lead us back to question the starting assumption: Does helping an individual with same-sex attraction equate to pushing for the same-sex marriage agenda or affirming his alternative sexual identity at all costs?

Many of my friends with same-sex attraction live healthier, more fulfilling lives today not because they have been affirmed of an alternative sexual identity, but because of loving support rendered that enabled them to work on their social-emotional difficulties and to accept themselves.

Their specific sexual dispositions should play little role in their identity.

They are not pushing the same-sex marriage agenda.

This is especially important for society to understand, so that we do not confuse the goal of loving homosexuals with an agenda to change the moral laws of society.

We should love homosexuals and ensure they are not bullied or discriminated against.

But to link this to a need to push the same-sex marriage agenda would be a wrong conclusion.

It is, hence, of grave concern to see the developments in our student campuses.

Expertise in navigating through this sensitive issue holistically and factually is sorely missing.

Leo Hee Khian
ST Forum, 15 May 2015

Protect line between tolerance, normalisation

AS MR Leo Hee Khian points out, there is an increased number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) interest groups within our tertiary schools ("Distinguish between helping gays and supporting an agenda"; yesterday). 

These interest groups often highlight bullying and suicide among people who self-identify as part of the LGBT community. Consequently, these groups promote the normalisation of homosexuality as the solution.

This trend is disconcerting, as "tolerance" and "normalisation" are not the same thing.

Tolerance presumes disagreement towards homosexual behaviour, but seeks to "live and let live". Normalisation, however, seeks the approval and celebration of homosexual behaviour.

Hence, unless we are prepared to take on faith the unproven assumption that one's sexual behaviour is amoral and intrinsic to one's identity, there is a leap of logic in justifying normalisation as the best way forward.

Given the above, how then should LGBT groups be managed by our schools? Are the schools simply remaining neutral, and allowing students to decide on their own?

Claims of neutrality are not valid. If we accept that humans have a social dimension, neutrality is a myth because it ignores the reality of social and institutional influences on individual choice and belief.

Some ideas and preferences become popular only because they are institutionally and socially reinforced or conditioned.

Therefore, in making a choice to intervene or not to intervene, schools are making a choice which requires the weighing of opposing values.

A deliberate choice to allow such influences to continue may be based on a belief that normalising homosexual behaviour is desirable, or that the tenets of liberal philosophy should be adopted.

Yet, neither is widely accepted in Singapore.

Hence, given the state of affairs, schools should ensure that the line from "tolerance" to "normalisation" remains protected, until a broader social consensus is reached.

The education sector is especially sensitive as our youth are the future of society.

Han Junwei
ST Forum, 16 May 2015

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