‘Should we be outraged? What else can we do?: Reflecting on a school’s recent anti-LGBTQ+ content.
TW: This article contains content about LGBTQ+ discrimination and conversion therapy.
The recent incident of a school counsellor at Hwa Chong Institution presenting anti-LGBTQ+ content and a video from a group promoting conversion therapy during a sexuality education lesson has led to some students sharing details of the session online.
Is it wrong to feel outraged about this?
To all those who feel affected by the incident, be it LGBTQ+ youths or allies present at the assembly or others reading about it online, I know that it may be deeply upsetting to witness this episode, alongside any hateful comments that come along with it.
As with all other beings in this world, we all suffer, because of our greed, aversion and delusions.
Judgments may arise in our minds about the counsellor and the school and with that, ill-will and anger can cloud our minds.
We may feel that justice should be served and punishment should be meted out. However, if we give in to the temptations of anger, we are nudging the mind to develop an inclination to anger in future, sowing the seeds of future occurrences. More importantly, such thoughts can hurt us further and impede us from directing our attention to caring for our friends who are impacted by this.
“This cruel thought has arisen in me. It leads to hurting myself, hurting others, and hurting both. It blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment…
Whatever a monastic frequently thinks about and considers becomes their mind’s inclination.” – MN 19 Dvedhāvitakka Sutta
There is nothing wrong with the arising of anger. It is a completely natural reaction to have in the face of injustice. The key is how we act when we notice the anger. We can choose to raise our fists and bay for blood or we can choose to underscore our response based on compassion, wisdom and kindness.
What else can we do then?
To those who are concerned about how their friends may be impacted by this incident, do check in with your friends and be there for them. For people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, the misinformation may reinforce unhealthy perceptions they may be having about themselves or others in the LGBTQ+ community.
While we cannot walk this journey for them, we can walk with them and support them.
- Share with them open letters responding to this incident in support of the LGBTQ+ community (here, here and here)
- Show empathy and employ active listening
- Direct them to trusted friends/family members or community resources listed below, if needed
To the LGBTQ+ individuals who are affected by this incident, please remember that there is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ+ and that you deserve love and happiness as much as anyone else. If you are finding it challenging to cope, please reach out to a trusted friend/family member or the resources listed below.
Personally, what I gained from this episode is that we have no control over what happens in the external world, such as the things people say or do. But, we can decide what we want to do in our inner worlds, such as our practice and our choices. We can choose to send loving-kindness to not just the LGBTQ+ youth affected, but also to the counsellor involved.
He is also clouded by delusions, just like we all are, and he too wants to be happy and avoid suffering. By deepening our practice, it gives us a chance to tend our minds to compassion, kindness and wisdom and helps us to be better able to support one another through whatever life throws in our way.
Professional services available to LGBTQ+ community:
Join a Buddhist LGBT Community in Singapore: