Eighteen mothers of gay children have called on the education bureau in Hangzhou near Shanghai, China to withdraw just published booklets which list ways parents can ‘prevent homosexuality’.
The booklet, Parents Please Walk Your Children Through Puberty, describes homosexuality as a type of ‘sexual deviance’ and says (as translated by Shanghaiist):
‘Because homosexuals are not accepted by prevailing social customs and moral standards, they tend to be anti-social and eccentric... Preventing homosexuality requires a good social environment.’
The mothers’ letter says that this description does not match the Chinese Psychological Society and the World Health Organization’s definitions of homosexuality.
‘As parents, we understand our children,’ the letter reads. ‘Our children are gay, but they are not eccentric or weird. They care for the young, are inquisitive, motivated and self-disciplined. They are no different from ordinary people in their outlook on life and morality.’
The letter emphasizes that the booklet not only provides parents and children with the wrong information, but it encourages prejudice and discrimination and may cause children ‘inner conflict and mental damage’.
The chief editor of the booklet Hang Siping was quick to accept blame and agreed to remove the offending comments, admitting he hadn’t done enough research on homosexuality. Shanghaiist reports that he said:
‘In the course of writing and publishing this book, we have not consulted a lot of materials on homosexuality. It was inevitable to have words that some have considered discriminatory. This is also my fault as chief editor.’
Hang said he would rather leave the section on homosexuality out than be ‘controversial’.
However, the amendments will only be made to the second edition to be published in October, so any parents and children who receive the free booklet before then are in danger of acquiring damaging views of homosexuality.
Director of Beijing Gender and Health Education Institute, Xiaogang Wei told Gay Star News he was ‘disappointed’ that such outdated views on homosexuality had been published, especially as he ran a conference on sexual diversity in Hangzhou last year.
However, Wei added that the people at PFLAG China who sent letter from the mothers are doing a great job monitoring publications on this topic across the country, and issuing responses. ‘What they are doing is really important,’ he said.