I am not what that counsellor taught you: openly gay Hwa Chong alumnus & science teacher speaks out

He encouraged students who might be questioning their sexuality to learn widely and only decide who they are when they are ready.

Zi Shan Kow | July 18, 2022, 11:09 PM

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Otto Fong, an openly gay comic artist and former science teacher at Raffles Institution, spoke out about the recent incident involving a Hwa Chong school counsellor on Facebook.

What happened

During a sexuality education lesson for Secondary 4 students on July 13, a Hwa Chong school counsellor made discriminatory statements against the LGBT community.

One statement claimed that one in every 15 homosexual is a pedophile.

The counsellor has since been suspended from giving further sexuality education lessons.

"Being gay does not affect my ability to live a fulfilling and moral life"

At the time of writing, Fong's post has more than 400 shares in less than a day.

A Chinese High School and Hwa Chong junior college old boy, Fong addressed his post to the staff, parents and students of the school.

He plainly refuted the unscientific claims made by the counsellor.

"There is no evidence that gay people are more or less likely to be pedophiles," said Fong.

For a trusted counsellor to repeat these unfounded and biased claims, he felt that both straight and gay students were being "shortchanged in terms of scientific thinking".

Fong imagined the talk would drive students to hate gay people, and cause students who are gay to be even more afraid to reveal their identity.

He said he was fortunate to be taught "solid science" when he was in Hwa Chong, even though there was no sexuality education back then.

"I bought lots of books on the subject and spoke to many gay seniors, who guided me towards a life of hope and showed me that being gay does not affect my ability to live a fulfilling and moral life," he added.

Fong, who has been with his gay partner for 24 years, is also the creator of local TV series "Totally Totto" and the popular science comic series "Sir Fong’s Adventures In Science".

Image via Otto Fong.

Image via Otto Fong.

Living as a gay person

Now teaching in an international school in Thailand, Fong is openly gay to his colleagues and students.

He said it is a non-issue in the country: "Society does not seem to be affected adversely in any way as some Singaporeans like you to think."

Regardless, Fong sympathises with people who are anti-gay, who were taught to be "fearful of a natural minority".

"It must be difficult to have to reconcile what they see around them with that disparage, distorted information," he said.

But he felt he had to speak out, knowing that such information was again being fed to vulnerable, trusting students.

Addressing Hwa Chong students and their parents, Fong shot down the statements made by the counsellor during the presentation.

“I am not what that internal counsellor taught you. The gay teachers I know are not what he taught you. We are no better nor worse than the average straight teachers, and you can be sure we will be dutiful and accountable to the parents who entrust their children to us. I am not the kind of person the internal counsellor will have you believe. I live a decent life, work hard and take good care of my family."

He stressed that the counsellor's information are distorted, unsupported and harmful -- and students do not need to accept them.

And for the students who might be questioning their sexuality, he advised them to not let anyone define or dictate their life.

He encouraged them to learn widely, then go on to decide who they are when they are ready.

Finally, he urged them: "Live a good life even when some desperately want you to fail.”

Read Fong's full post here:

Top images via Otto Fong and Mothership reader.