Sunday October 7, 2012
The V-neck battle goes on
V-neck Day and free Briyani for those in V-neck shirts?
“It should not be a joking matter,” Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi bemoans, commenting on some of the reactions to his effort of highlighting the “dangers” posed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) phenomenon on the youth in Malaysia.
But Dr Mohd Puad is determined to walk down the unpopular road of curbing the trend of LGBT in schools.
As he puts it, the trend seems to be prevalent in society and popular media, making it imperative for the Government to prevent it from penetrating schools.
“It is not prevalent in school yet but preventive action is needed to ensure that it does not spread among students,” he says.
When asked how prevalent the phenomenon is in schools, he says, the ministry does not have any data.
“I don't know because we don't have the facts. We don't have the data to show how serious it is,” he tells Sunday Star.
He adds that when the issue “exploded” - specifically the disputed LGBT-symptom guidelines - he received a lot of flak, but it has only made his belief that the LGBT lifestyle is not a healthy way of life.
“There are two reasons: it is the biggest cause of HIV after drugs. It also causes a lot of social problems such as broken marriages. That is why we need to nip it in the bud,” he says.
And that is why, Dr Mohd Puad points out, we need to raise parents' awareness.
“They have to be exposed to what it is all about, many parents don't even know what the terms mean; they say that they are confused by the terms.”
For those who need a reminder, the deputy minister was slammed last month for purportedly supporting a list spelling out some definitions and identifiable LGBT traits, at a seminar in Penang, aimed at helping parents recognise “symptoms” of LGBT in children.
The seminar, “Parents Handling LGBT Issues”, organised by Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad and Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parent-Teacher Association, has since been held in Kedah and Trengganu.
Although it is independent of the Education Ministry, the deputy minister had officiated at the seminars.
The list reportedly says that gay men have muscular bodies that they like to show off in V-neck and sleeveless clothes, or tight and light-coloured clothing; and that they like to carry big handbags similar to those used by women.
Lesbians are said to be attracted to women, and like to eat, sleep and hang out in the company of other women and have no affection for men.
Reiterating the Government's commitment, Dr Mohd Puad stresses that it is crucial for parents to get exposure and knowledge of the LGBT trend so that they can be more vigilant of the signs and tackle the threat early.
However, he declines to elaborate on what the Government would do to “correct” or “prevent” LGBT in schools, conceding that the science of it is debatable.
“I don't want to be drawn into the debate of whether it (LGBT) is a lifestyle or natural instinct. That is why we want to bring it out in the open because it can be debated on. However, it is not something that should be joked about,” he says.
When pointed out that there are many studies disputing the effectiveness of corrective therapies, Dr Mohd Puad cites the case of “two ex-gays” presented by the seminar.
“If the two can change and become straight, I don't see why others cannot.”
When asked about the dangers of discrimination and bullying in school, he declines to answer.
Dr Mohd Puad shares that the ministry is looking at equipping school counsellors with the necessary knowledge and understanding as well as training to deal with LGBT.
However, he denies that the Ministry will be taking a hardline stance - “We are not looking at identifying LGBT students or punishing them,” he says.
“We in the Ministry of Education look at this LGBT issue seriously, and all we wish to do is to educate people, parents especially, on how to overcome this issue, how to prevent it as well as early corrective measures,” he says.
Intolerance of LGBT can be detrimental to young people