Thousands of students have signed a petition for gender equality to be taught in elementary and junior-high schools in an effort to decrease bullying in schoolyards due to the sexual orientation of students.
National Chengchi University student Liao Hao-hsiang launched the petition on Wednesday.
The voice of students has been largely ignored — whether as part of Referendum No. 12, one of the referendum questions posed alongside local elections on Nov. 24 last year, or in recent discussions — the signatories said, adding that their voice has been arbitrarily represented by parents or other groups.
Referendum No. 12 — which asked: “Do you agree that the right to persons of the same sex to create a permanent union should be guaranteed by an institution other than marriage as defined by the Civil Code?” — passed with 6,401,748 “yes” votes to 4,072,471 “no” votes.
The use of derogative terms to make fun of or belittle others shows that many students consider those in the LGBT community as inferior, they said.
Teaching materials on understanding and respecting the LGBT community should be neither abolished nor delayed, they said, citing an April 26 incident in which a junior-high school student tried to kill himself by jumping from the fourth floor of his Taichung school after being verbally bullied about his or a family member’s sexual orientation.
The concerns of parents are understandable, but they should trust the educators who review the materials and teach them, they added.
Students would not become homosexuals from learning how to respect others, nor would the teaching entice them to “diversify” their sexual activity, they said.
The students called on the Ministry of Education not to spread disinformation, but to reach out to parents to allay their fears and misunderstandings regarding gender equality in education.
“We hope that misunderstandings and misinformation will not subvert the right of students to learn and will put the brakes on bullying,” the students said.
Liao said she was concerned that as the enforcement rules and same-sex marriage bills are tied together, there is still time before the end of the month to introduce changes that could keep same-sex marriage from being introduced.
Lai called on students to call their legislators, voicing their support for the Executive Yuan version of the same-sex marriage bill and demanding that legislators move to exclude Article 13 of the Enforcement Rules for Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法施行細則) being reviewed.