TNP: Blog not meant for his students (Sept 14)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Gay teacher outs himself in blog posting. Then he removes it as...
Blog not meant for his students
HIS online declaration was straightforward - 'I'm gay.'
By Liew Hanqing
14 September 2007

HIS online declaration was straightforward - 'I'm gay.'

But it was no ordinary blog.

It was written by a 38-year-old teacher at one of Singapore's
top boys' schools.

He claims it was only meant to be read by his colleagues and
some friends.

But somehow word spread and it got online forums buzzing.

The school, however, is not over-reacting to the teacher's honest
and sober admission.

And this is why we are not naming him or his school.

As more people learnt of it, the teacher removed the post - just
two days after he wrote it on 8 Sep.

In the entry, the teacher said he was inspired to come out of the
closet and write openly about his sexuality after attending a forum
on gay teachers and students.


In an e-mail statement to The New Paper, a spokesman for his
school said it is 'mindful of the views of (the school's) stakeholders,
especially parents who would not be comfortable with placing their
children under the charge of a teacher who advocates homosexuality.'

The spokesman confirmed that the school had spoken to the teacher

'In this instance, (the teacher) intended the blog to be read only by
his colleagues and friends.

'He has clarified that he had no intention of advocating homosexuality
to students. Thus, he did not give the link to any of his students.

'However, now that he is aware that some students
have been reading his blog, he has decided to take down
the blog.'

The reaction of the local Internet community has been

Former students and other netizens have left messages on
his blog and on other websites, many in support of his
decision to go public about his sexual orientation.

In the original blog post, the teacher recalled having felt
attracted to classmates of the same sex from the time
he was in Primary 6.

He wrote: 'As a teenager, I was very quick to sense society's
aversion towards the 'sissies' in my classes. I worked hard to
distance myself from them.

'While I was successful in modifying my outward behaviour,
my sexual orientation remained unchanged.

'My denial gnawed at me, and the suppression of my true self
resulted in self-destructive behavior during my overseas
university years.'

He 'spent more than 20 years in the professional closet', keeping
his sexual orientation under wraps to all but a 'handful' of

Explaining his decision to speak openly about his sexuality,
the teacher wrote: 'Being in the closet, pretending to be straight,
trimming our true selves to suit the whims and expectations of
others, is just like being a human bonsai tree.'

He also wrote: 'I am still a teacher.

'My main purpose and joy is to teach our youngest citizens, the
same ones who will be the leaders of our nation tomorrow.'


The teacher also said being gay did not make him a sexual

'I'm not, as some people like to label gays, a paedophile, a
child molester, a pervert or sexual deviant.'

While some have voiced support for the teacher's online
confession, others say he should have kept the information

A student from another school, Jasper Chen, 18, said he admired
the teacher's honesty and courage.

'He risked losing his job in an attempt to transform the public's
perception of gays in the teaching profession,' he said.

Parents like Mrs Catherine Gasper, 48, however, were less
enthusiastic about the teacher's candour.

'He should keep such things private - I don't think it's
our business to know about his personal life,' said Mrs
Gasper,who has a son in Primary 5.

'It (his sexual orientation) doesn't really matter, as long as he's
a good teacher - but parents will likely become wary because
they don't know enough about the gay community.

'There's a lack of awareness that comes from a lack of contact
with (gays), so people will tend to go along with their own biases
and prejudices.'

Added one secondary school teacher, who declined to be named:
'In this case, the teacher is in contact with boys who are still
young and impressionable.

'Their sexual preferences may still be somewhat unclear and in
flux, so it's probably best that the teacher doesn't reveal too much,
too soon.

'There is a line that must be drawn between a person's public and
personal life.'