By Sherry Hsiao / Staff reporter
Parents and children led by the Taiwan Obasang Political Equality Party and other groups yesterday rallied outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei in support of LGBT education after King & King (國王與國王), a book for children depicting a homosexual relationship, drew protests.
The rally followed a similar one on Wednesday last week.
The Ministry of Education gave the book to children as part of a program to promote reading among students entering their first year of elementary or junior-high school.
Every first-grader was given one book from among 100 titles, including the Mandarin-language edition of the picture book.
Authored and illustrated by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, the book was originally published under the Dutch title Koning & Koning.
It depicts two princes who get married.
The ministry’s inclusion of the book on its list has been protested by groups over its content.
Supporters of the book yesterday shouted slogans including: “Help children become themselves” and “LGBT education provides complete children’s rights.”
They held signs with messages such as: “Who a child likes is their freedom” and “Whether a child likes girls or boys will not be affected by a book.”
Several groups were represented, including the Garden of Hope Foundation, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and the Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association.
The inclusion of the book has drawn protests from some parents’ groups, who say that it “smuggles LGBT issues into classrooms and would create confusion in children’s minds,” Obasang chairwoman Chang Shu-hui (張淑惠) said.
After reading the book, a child “might think more, and wonder: ‘Do I like boys or girls?’” Chang said.
“Is this a kind of confusion, or is this a starting point for constantly asking oneself questions and a starting point for self-understanding?” she asked.
“As parents, when a five or six-year-old child points to the picture book King & King on the shelf, or other similar picture books for LGBT education, are we going to tell the child: ‘You cannot read this’?” Chang asked.
“We believe that children should have the right to openness and diversity in the exploration of gender identity and sexual orientation,” she said.
“Asking for ‘zero detection’ of the concept of LGBT literature in junior-high and elementary education is tantamount to keeping LGBT locked in a dark closet,” she said.
“Sexist remarks and behaviors are what should be ‘taken off the shelves’ in campuses and society,” said Chen He-syun (陳鶴勳), supervisor at the Garden of Hope Foundation’s Intersectional Discrimination Gender-Based Violence Prevention Center.
“Rejecting picture books that teach respect for differences — gender differences — is pushing children on campus into danger,” Chen said.
“We believe that fear comes from the unknown,” Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation chief executive officer Tu Chih-yao (凃之堯) said. “So we sincerely invite these parent groups with concerns to take this opportunity to get a good understanding of the gender issues and human rights issues that Taiwan has not been able to bring to the surface and to be taught.”
“Everyone has the right to love everyone,” a grade 5 student surnamed Ho (何) said. “No one can stop [them].”
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