He was originally scheduled to speak the day before on Saturday, June 29, but was eventually a no-show.
According to Simon, he received a call on Friday night informing him that he had been removed from the speakers list.
He wrote that he was urged to edit and omit from his script certain LGBTQ+ themes that he wanted to speak about.
This was after objections were raised about some content in his speech related to LGBTQ+ matters and his coming out story as a gay person.
What was issue about?
Simon did not mention specifically what the organisers had told him to edit or omit.
But he provided examples of what would have been changed had he acceded to the request.
He wrote that it would be against his principles "to flip the gender of my ex" when talking about his breakup story, as well as to totally leave out his coming out story to his father.
After pulling out of the talk, Simon wrote that he was approached by a representative of SP who wanted to extend a formal apology in person, due to the need to adhere to guidelines set down by MOE.
However, Simon declined to meet in person, but said he appreciated the gesture.
The student organising committee reviewed Simon’s script when they received it “on the eve” of the event.
The student organising committee then sought the second opinion of staff of SP.
The offer to amend Simon's script was then made by the organising committee.
In response to Mothership.sg queries, a spokesperson for SP said:
[email protected] is a student-led event that is supported by Singapore Polytechnic. Its purpose is to inspire youths with ideas and stories. The student organising committee invited several speakers for this event, including Joshua Simon. They were given the theme of “You versus You” - how one can be better versions of themselves.
All speakers were required to submit their scripts before the event to ensure that their content is aligned to the theme and appropriate for the audience.
In the run-up to the event, Joshua Simon was advised that certain references to his sexuality might be sensitive, given the diverse profile of the audience.
The student organising committee reviewed his script when they received on the eve of [email protected] They found it inspirational but assessed that certain parts relating to his sexuality might be inappropriate, for the target audience. They sought the advice of the staff of SP who agreed with the students’ views.
The organising committee had then suggested that Joshua Simon consider reviewing how these mentions are expressed in his script, given the audience profile, while preserving the integrity of his story. Unfortunately, he decided not to speak at the event at all instead. The students were disappointed but respected his decision.
Mothership.sg also sought a statement from the Ministry of Education.
A MOE spokesperson said in response to Mothership.sg queries:
All our institutes of higher learning (IHLs) can decide on events conducted on campus. For this particular event, MOE was neither informed of it, nor involved in the event organisers’ deliberations on the selection of speakers.
Having said that, we have guidelines for IHLs. We encourage open discussions on various topics, but some issues, especially those that concern race and religion, are sensitive and potentially socially divisive. Organisers need to be cognisant of them and exercise appropriate judgement.