Wednesday, November 22, 2006
A Student's View: Homophobia in School
The following is an essay that appeared on 20 July, 2005 on The author of the essay was only identified as "Mae, age 16", who expressed her disappointment over pervasive homophobia in her school, and the frustration of having a different viewpoint. While SAFE cannot verify the identity of Mae and the contents of her essay, we felt it was a well-written essay with an important personal story, and we hope she does not mind us sharing it on this site.

"On the eve of the 2004 U.S. election results, I was on a school camping trip. I drifted into sleep, mulling over the way my teacher casually dismissed John Kerry as gay-friendly. She felt gay marriages were very "abnormal."

The next morning I abandoned breakfast, rushing up to the open balcony and planting myself in front of the tiny television, leaving my companions and teacher to dine below.

With my eyes fixed on the immaculately dressed Channel NewsAsia presenters, my ears strained to catch the sound trickling out of the box. A message mentioning a Bush victory scrolled past in the bottom bar. Unfazed, I reassured myself it was nothing to worry about when I heard a sudden outburst from below. Bush had won.

I stared blankly as my teacher jubilantly cried out, "Yeah! Bush won! No gay marriages!" Whoops and cheers followed her statement. I blinked, and looked back to the screen, taking the news in.

Then I doubled over, my hopes completely crushed.

Religious sentiments and blithe ignorance aside, I find my teacher to be a respectable person, which is exactly what makes it so difficult for me to come to terms with the persistent state of things here in Singapore regarding same-sex relationships.

In my school, homosexuality is treated as a joke by students and teachers alike. Derogatory slurs are tossed about without a moment's hesitation, and the word "gay" is always used in a negative context.

In my country, sexuality is still widely considered too taboo to openly discuss. Such prevalent prejudice is simply due to apathy and unawareness. That is why I find it so upsetting and wrong.

It is a terrible disappointment to see and hear people judged because of their sexual orientation. As a student experiencing this daily, it breaks my heart to know that my intelligent schoolmates and teachers hold such a biased view, even when the facts are laid out in front of them. If only they would look.

I first learned tolerance because I realized I was being a supreme idiot for just accepting what others said, without bothering to check the facts and form my own opinion.

The respect I had for my teacher was shattered because of her blatantly homophobic attitudes, which I believe are based solely on stereotypical images from others and from popular entertainment.

Right now, I'm sad to say, it isn't a good idea for a teacher to come out of the closet. I don't think that a teacher should lie about his or her sexual orientation. But to be successful and maintain a good image, he or she has to.

An openly gay teacher would suffer from a sullied reputation and be treated unfairly by both staff and students. The school might not demand an openly gay teacher's resignation, but the loss of respect — however subtle — would exist and would show.

I believe a teacher's sexual identity should not be grounds for discrimination. What truly matters is a teacher's ability to teach, to care for students and to inspire fellow colleagues.

Though disheartened by intolerant attitudes, I still harbor the hope that the situation will soon change for the better.

If a gay teacher is willing to face the consequences of being honest about who he or she is, then I fully support that teacher's standing up for personal beliefs. It would count as one step in the right direction.

I do not believe that homosexuality is a perversion of nature or a hedonistic lifestyle choice. Unless we bother to try and step out of our comfort zones, our perspectives on those who are different from us will remain vague and distorted."

Source: Does it matter if your teacher is gay?, by Mae, posted on