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Friday, July 4, 2014, 10:29

Breaking the gender barrier

By Andrea Deng

Breaking the gender barrier
Peter Shiu Ka-fai, chairperson of the Liberal Party’s Ban Gay Marriage Hong Kong, raised concern that children reading books about homosexuality might lead to misunderstanding or distortion of how children think of families.
Breaking the gender barrier
Anti gay marriage organizations are worried that children who read books on homosexuality will have their family views “distorted”. They suggest that such books in the public library should be read with parental guidance.
Discrimination cases

Debate on homosexuality and related issues remains controversial in Hong Kong, even in the face of more and more gay rights events, more discrimination cases being reported in the media, and all the while same-sex marriage being legalized worldwide.

Sandra Tsang Kit-man, a University of Hong Kong associate professor specializing in parent education, child and adolescent assessment and intervention, told China Daily that her public positions leave her struggling to establish her own stance on the issue.

Tsang is also a member of the Public Libraries Advisory Committee, a member of the Equal Opportunities Commission, a devout follower of Baptist Church, and a clinical psychologist who has provided counseling to homosexuals.

 Tsang said that in today’s Hong Kong, it’s almost impossible to shield children from knowing about homosexuality. Families with same-sex parents appear in television programs. But echoing Shiu of the Liberal Party, Tsang said children at such an early age are easily molded and influenced by what they see, and reading a book is a common channel that enlightens children. She advised that it would be more appropriate that children’s books involving homosexuality be read by children with parents’ guidance.

Tsang highlighted another point. “We must understand that the issue of sexual orientation or gender recognition is getting quite political. Many interests are involved and people hold very different views from each other. I can understand that some human-rights activists might find it difficult to hold the same views as those who object to same-sex marriage,” she argued.

Tsang, who’s married, urged parents to be prepared to answer questions about homosexuality, saying it’s not surprising that even adults today might be confused or undecided on the controversial subject. “We told our children that is our orientation. When you grow up, you can have your own choice, but as your parent, this is our choice,” she said.

Responding to China Daily’s further enquiry, an LCSD spokesperson said it’s considered not appropriate for a public library to label particular library materials as requiring parental guidance, but then parents are allowed to make their own choice of reading materials for their children, and that different parents or children have different reading needs.

“Other than classified publications by law, no restrictions should be imposed on library collection and services,” the spokesperson said, adding that parents are encouraged to join parent-child reading programs organized by public libraries.

Contact the writer at andrea@chinadailyhk.com

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