Unreasonable Oppression of Sex and Gender Education for Handicapped Children

Takashi Sugiyama

In Japan today, the legislators of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and the Kagoshima Assembly, members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education (TMBE), along with the mass media are severely limiting the content of sex and gender education classes. In addition, teachers find themselves unreasonably harassed and oppressed.

On July 4th, when some legislators visited Nanao School (a public school for handicapped children), not only officials of the TMBE went with them, but also a reporter from Sankei Newspaper. They did not even observe complete classes, nor did anyone talk with the teachers about their lessons on that day.

Yet, the Sankei Newspaper proceeded to publish a photo of nude male and female dolls with genitals used for instruction, in spite of the fact that the dolls are usually dressed. The report about the sex and gender education in Nanao School is very distorted, labeling it as "pornographic" education. They continue to produce articles full of prejudicial comments. Moreover, at the Japanese Diet, one legislator complained of "excessive sex and gender education." The teachers are accused of providing "pornographic" education.

In Nanao School, the teachers have worked hard with the support and understanding of the parents, in order to provide sex and gender education suitable for handicapped children. But now, two directors of the TMBE keep censoring seventeen teachers in order to direct sex and gender education into a more appropriate direction, in their opinion.

The Sei-Kyo-Kyo is a leading organization which has worked towards the establishment of sex and gender education based on scientific facts and humanity, human rights, independence, and cohabitation, needs of children, as well as in light of the changing times. Our ultimate goal is to help students become independent, make their own choices with respect to their sexuality and social lives. To accomplish this goal, we include the explanation of the human body and sexuality, including sexual minorities, in our teaching materials.

We also provide lectures, teaching materials and workshops. The lesson plan in Nanao School was derived from these ideas in order to help the handicapped children understand their own bodies and the bodies of the different sexes in the hope that the children will think about what their independence means, as well as living together with others. I think the denial of this kind of education is a violation of their rights to sex and gender education.

In Japan, conservative and old-fashioned sex and gender education still goes on, even though the ideas of the Sei-Kyo-Kyo"have been increasingly accepted by Japanese families and society as the most appropriate form of sex and gender education for children today. This kind of public criticism will not stop at the sex and gender education for handicapped children only.

As a gay person, I have supported and provided sex and gender education based on the ideas of the Sei-Kyo-Kyo. It would be impossible to teach about sex including the topic of homosexuality, if the ideas, materials, and workshops were not prepared nationwide by the Sei-Kyo-Kyo. I fear that this kind of sex-education bashing and criticism of sex and gender education free from gender bias observed in the case of the handicapped children will cause other, and different problems. For example, groups that are critical of gender-bias-free education have started publicly attacking homosexuality. The Kagoshima Prefecture Assembly has passed a regulation based on a petition to end gender-bias-free education in Kagoshima.

It is very possible that these restrictions on the content of teaching will deny children the opportunity to learn about gender-bias-free issues. This indicates not only an ignorance of the needs of children today, but is also a violation of their rights. We, as educators and researchers of sex and gender education, including sexual minorities, must protest firmly against this unreasonable intervention and oppression by the government. This is also a protest to protect "education as a human right."

In summary, the incidents described above include two big problems. One is the content of sex and gender education and the other is the unreasonable governmental intervention and oppression in the educational system. Teachers in some areas have already received a governmental notice which discourages them from attending a workshop organized by the Sei-Kyo-Kyo for instance, which in turn discourages their willingness to learn and violates their rights to freedom of choice. We must watch in which direction, freedom or control, governmental authorities will direct educational issues.

I hope this has piqued your interest in some of the educational problems in Japan and that you will support us, especially by writing your opinions to the Japanese governmental offices and media. Thank you very much.

My Opinions Concerning an Article, "Misguided Sex Education Causes the *Nagasaki Incident" in the Asahi Geino

*Note: Recently, in Nagasaki, a twelve-year-old boy killed a four-year-old boy after having injured his penis. He has also stalked girls.

Takashi Sugiyama

In Japan's commuter trains, you can see many outrageous advertisements for magazines like Asahi Geino. A recent issue included a cover photo of a young woman, whose breasts were almost fully exposed, along with headlines such as "A Female TV Announcer with Huge Breasts," Thirty Female TV Announcers I Want to Have Sex With," "See Photos of Office Ladies' Private Parts." Japanese people have become so inured to them that no one thinks to protest against them anymore. As a result, there is little regulation of pornography in Japan.

Apparently, Japanese men think of women as sex objects and something to be looked down upon. Perhaps many women think, "I am different from those women in the photographs", but they are bound by a Japanese society dominated by men.

It is very easy for young Japanese to obtain some adult materials. This kind of magazine is sold everywhere, in book stores, convenience stores, and kiosks. No one needs to show an I.D. to make a purchase. In commuter trains, many adults openly read these kinds of magazines and other tabloids which include naked women.

In a recent issue of Asahi Geino two university professors criticized the form of sex and gender education based on lessons created by the Sei-kyo-kyo in the magazine Sexuality. The same lesson plans have been attacked in the Tokyo Assembly. The magazine uses phrases such as "Wild Sex Education," "Showing Ejaculation Using a Model-Penis," "Showing Animation of Incest," and "Pupils Forced to Recite Words for Genitals." When people read this, some might ask, "What kind of sex education is being conducted in our schools?"

Many adults, like the legislators or those who publish and/or buy pornographic magazines, have the idea that "sex" is "dirty." That is reflected in their criticism of a pair of anatomically correct dolls and The Picture Book of Sexuality. They also have compared the Nanao School to an adult goods shop. I, myself, have used a model-penis when I have taught high-schoolers how to put on a condom in a sex and gender class. I believe that sufficient, scientific knowledge helps students become independent. I also hope it frees them to make decisions about their own sexuality.

If sex is so dirty, how can parents talk about the birth of their children with their children? How can they say, "You were conceived as a result of dirty sex"? To avoid discussion, they support conservative morality and ignore scientific facts.

However, the media is different. The effects of the content of their magazines on children are not their concern, so pornographic photos and illustrations, as well as shocking head lines, are easily available to children. Children often attempt sexual acts based on the information in these pornographic magazines. It is no wonder that this kind of information leads children to think women are sex objects and are inferior to men. Why does the public think it's the so-called "radical" sex and gender education that leads to some children's outrageous sexual acts?

The answer is clear. Those adults do not think it is "their problem." In other words, they do not think about their social responsibility. It is reflected in the hypocrisy of the Asahi Geino, which lambastes "sex" education while at the same time publishing pornographic photos and articles. What are they thinking when they say, "It is not good to teach "radical" sex at school? Does sex education at school encourage children to run out and commit wild sexual acts"? Do they not realize it is they who create the trouble for young people?

Their idea is to hide "their problem" by attacking "radical" sex and gender education. This kind of society is supported not only by the Asahi Geino, but also by the legislators, the bureaucrats, and the university professors who have written for this "pornographic" periodical. What are their opinions about sexuality? The readers perhaps know the answer.

Thus, our sex and gender education is labeled as "radical" or "extreme", so that the policy makers and the media can avoid their social responsibility to children and young adults. Unfortunately, this kind of attitude is supported within Japanese society today.


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