Humphrey who is a HIV/AIDS activist attended a panel on sex education, hoping to learn about the textbooks used to teach Chinese students about sex at the International Conference on Sexuality in Kunming, China. One presenter reading aloud from a book that had been widely used in high school classrooms in the city of Hangzhou for years: “Masturbation will lead to mental disorders and homosexuality,” he said. Wou, who had been in the region for months providing rapid HIV testing to gay men, was not surprised. In a country where sex and sexuality remain taboo topics of discussion, such misinformation remains common. In fact, out of ninety Chinese science, psychology, and sex-education textbooks surveyed by the Gay and Lesbian Campus Association, a Guangzhou-based student advocacy group, 80 percent characterized homosexuality as psychologically aberrant. Although homosexuality was removed from the official list of mental disorders in 2001, LGBT people in China have few legal protections against discrimination and still face widespread social disapproval and harassment. One of the reasons for this was stated by Wou saying that the traditional values of the Chinese has come back in big way since about 10 years ago. “The government is very old-fashioned and refuses to adapt to modern times. Students are reading Confucius in the classroom and then having unprotected sex at hourly lodging hotels just outside of the college gates.” Sex education in China is optional so that means if a school chooses not to have it they do not have to. So needless to say that China lacks a unified sex education policy. Even the schools that have the curriculum do not explore the social and emotional dimension of sex and sexuality, essential for entering into mature sexual relationships. This made me think about our schools. I don’t know if anyone remembers but in my school when they gave sex education they talked mainly about period, pregnancy, condoms and what happens to your body when you hit puberty. According Wou, in China there are rarely many places for gay men to ask questions about there sexuality a be comfortable. This particular panel discussion occurring was the closes thing anyone of them has had to being able to have a open conversation about it.
By Tabitha McLaughlin
1:30 pm, April 17th, 2015