Monday, 9 May 2011

Letter On "Gender Education"


Lee Shao-fen (李韶芬) and Victoria Hsu (許秀雯), of the "Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights" assert that both children and "society at large" need to be educated about gender diversity. I protest: the only "needs" evinced in their editorial piece published on Monday were their own.

They began with a spectacular non-sequitur: that the belief that 5th grade children are too young to learn about homosexuality is wrong merely on account of the Canadian government's say so. I would quote them in their own words, but their assertion was blurted out over several paragraphs. If this is to be taken of evidence of their own powers of reasoning, then it strikes me that neither Shao-fen nor Hsu ought be teaching gender diversity or anything else; they ought to be studying basic syllogistic reasoning.

The salient question is not even whether the enforcement of legislation they advocate will solve the problem of bullying (I doubt it), it is a question of priorities. Every hour spent watching a video about transgender issues, is an hour that could have been spent on the history of Taiwan, or on algebraic equations, or on basic physics. That different parents will prioritize such alternatives differently is simply another argument for the liberation of the education system from political control. If parents want their children to learn about transgender issues at the age of ten - let them be free to find a school that will offer them that service; the liklihood that they won't find one is no excuse for politicists like Shao-fen and Hsu to have the State bully parents as to what their children will be taught. Who could possibly fail to see the irony here?

Finally, editorials on education surely ought to be framed by the broader context of spending cuts necessitated by the recent revelations over Taiwan's national debt. In the U.S., where the national debt of $14.3 trillion amounts to almost 100% of GDP, this is such a huge issue that it already overshadows all of U.S. politics. In Taiwan, by contrast, the figure given by the IMF of approximately NT$21 trillion is nearly 200% of Taiwan's GDP, yet one barely hears a word about this amid all the infernal noise over Tsai Ing-wen and Ma Ying-jeou. As the largest item in the government's annual budget at NT$357 billion this year alone, spending on education must be cut and surely "gender education institutes" ought to be obvious choices as the first things to be cut; serious fiscal and monetary reform will be vitally important for the people of Taiwan in the next few years - "transgender issues" will not be.

Yours freely,
Michael Fagan.

(Sent: Monday 9th May 2011. Unpublished by the Taipei Times)

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