Written by Uyen Le-Khuc

Just drop it like it’s hot!

Last Friday (July 20), St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) barred a representative from a varsity LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) group to speak at their school event TEDxYouth@SJI. In tandem with this year’s theme of “sharing information and igniting a love for learning in others”, SJI’s TEDx student organisers invited Ms Rachel Yeo, a research and advocacy director at the Inter-University LGBT network, to shed light on the topic of LGBT and inclusivity. However, Ms Yeo was informed on the eve of the event that her talk was cancelled, due to “MOE (Ministry of Education) regulations” that is “beyond [SJI’s] control”. Strangely, when contacted, MOE denied any involvement or knowledge about SJI’s deliberations.

When the voice of the people became the noise that went unheard…

The whole situation was messy; however, the problem lay not in who was responsible for this incident, but rather how it was handled. The sheer fact that the talk was abruptly cancelled again highlighted Singapore’s generally conservative attitude towards the issue of LGBT, and – to be more critical – its unreadiness to openly acknowledge and discuss the topic.

With the happenings of Pink Dot shining at the background, occurrences like this propel us into asking the real question: is the openness we are seeing really indicative/reflective of the true progress in reality, or just a temporary ‘noise’ of a vocal minority? As much as any progress is progress, it’s worthwhile to take a critical look at whether the effects of LGBT-championing events are translating into real policies and real, new norms in our society.

Until then, given how even a talk held within the safe boundary of an institution designed to facilitate open discussion was dropped allegedly because of its topic, what the Inter-University LGBT Network said on its Facebook will still be true: “…there remains much work to be done to foster a truly inclusive society for all Singaporeans, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity”.

(featured photo from The Online Citizen)

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