A sex education seminar has been scrapped after pictures of the bizarre material students were asked to read went viral.
Agatha Tan, a first-year student at the Hwa Chong Institution, turned whistle blower after she and fellow students were made to attend a compulsory seminar on relationships which included a section which pondered whether 'no means yes'?
Aside from its troubling attitude to consent, the textbook also relied heavily on offensive, antiquated gender stereotypes. An incredulous Agatha photographed some of the pages, which all have more in common with a 70s conedy routine than real life.
One page showed a chart comparing 'what she says' and 'what she means', full of hoary tropes that wouldn't be out of place in a dated sitcom. Boys, the book alleges, always say what they mean.
On another page, girls - referred to as 'gals' throughout the text - were described as 'emotional', in need of 'security', and wanting to 'look attractive', in contrast to boys, who want 'respect' and don't want a girlfriend who questions their decisions.
Girls were also advised to be careful in their dress to make sure they didn't become an 'eye magnet' for men who, we are told, can't resist ogling a woman showing skin.
Agatha, 17, also noted that when one fellow student questioned why LGBT sexual identities were not addressed, she was told to be quiet. Later, one of the workshop leaders dismissed LGBT relationships as 'unstable' and 'unfavourable'.
The teenager posted the images of the textbook on Facebook, along with an open letter addressed to the institution's principal.
"From merely glancing through this booklet, I learned a simple yet important lesson: that bigotry is very much alive and it was naïve of me to think I could be safe from it even in school," Agatha wrote in the letter, which has since been shared nearly 3,000 times.
After the seminar, Agatha did some digging and discovered that the forum was run by a Christian group called Focus on the Family, despite Singapore's secular education system.<
The screenshots quickly went viral in Singapore, prompting a group of ex-Hwa Chong students to write their own open letter condemning the seminar.
"We find it hugely problematic that the girls in Hwa Chong are being explicitly told that they have to suppress dissenting opinions if they want to maintain a relationship with a male partner," said the letter, which congratulated Agatha for bringing the issue to light.
Furthermore, it is also very harmful for boys to be told indirectly that they are entitled to relationships with girls who do not 'question their opinions and argue with them all the time.'"
The Singapore Ministry of Education is now investigating the incident.
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more