Openly gay teacher: I am very much able to live a fulfilling and moral life

By Otto Fong

Dear staff, parents and students of Hwa Chong,

An internal school counsellor of Hwa Chong recently gave a sexuality education talk for Sec 4 students. In the slides, he made some statements which were detrimental to the LGBTQ community.

These included:“58% of homosexuals have problems with intestinal worms”, “33% of homosexuals have problems with alcoholism” and “1 in 15 homosexuals is a pedophile”.

A video by, a group which portrays themselves as helping homosexuals but are really focused on turning homosexual behaviour towards heterosexual behavior (in vain and possibly causing significant harm to the victims), was also played in the the end of the talk.

There is no evidence that gay people are more or less likely to be pedophiles. One researcher, Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health in America, has stated, “It is disturbing to me to see special interest groups distort my scientific observations to make a point against homosexuality. The information they present is misleading and incorrect.” (Source: The Southern Poverty Law Center If we google, we will find that most of the science and scientists conclude that homosexuality is merely a natural occurrence and is like ever group in the world: there are good people and there are horrible people, but most are quite ordinary people.

I try to imagine myself sitting through a talk so biassed against my community. If I was a straight student, I would easily conclude that all gay people are disgusting and to be hated. If I was a gay student, I would be frightened further to hide my identity, to join the bullying of other gay people or even become suicidal. When no positive information and accurate research are given by a school counsellor, who we are supposed to trust for our well being, both straight and gay students are shortchanged in terms of scientific thinking and unfair discrimination against a minority would be perpetuated.

I was lucky to be taught some solid science back in Hwa Chong. Even though there was no sexuality education during my school years, I went to the bookstores to get some sparse information relevant to me. I was also lucky that my HC teachers prepared me well enough to do well in my O Levels. My parents sent me to the States for further education. 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.

Not all gay people are as fortunate as I to get a strong foundation in a good school. Certainly not many gay people get a more balanced view about homosexuality. I did not live with a low sense of self believing the prevalent anti-gay rhetorics, but I did see some gay people use alcohol to drown their sorrow.

I became a science teacher in Raffles Institution (though Hwa Chong did invite me over to teach too but I was emotionally-attached to my first batch of RI form class to let go of them after only 1 year). I taught in the school for eight years. I then become an author of a Science comic series and gave assembly talks to more than 100 Singaporean schools. Some of you might have watched a local tv series called ‘Totally Totto’ or read a comic called ‘Sir Fong’s Adventures in Science’. Those are this gay teacher’s creations.

I am now teaching in an international school in Thailand, and I am openly-gay to all my colleagues and students. Two of my former Thai students scored top in English in their schools, and one just got accepted into Hwa Chong! None of the parents made my sexuality an issue, as Thailand does not have a culture that supports discrimination based on sexuality. Gay people are part and parcel of daily life, and society does not seem to be affected adversely in any way as some Singaporeans like you to think.

Oh, I am also with my gay partner for 24 years. No domestic violence as the internal counsellor mentioned. The true horror of being gay is this: as we reached our 50s, we found dad jokes actually very funny.

I sympathise with those who are anti-gay. They grew up in an environment that continuously taught them 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. But I cannot sit by quietly while this kind of information is once again fed to another group of vulnerable, trusting students.

Thus, I join my Hwa Chong alumni in standing here, addressing all the parents and students and hoping that our personal examples will offer you a more balanced view on this issue. To the parents and students, I say to you: “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. The values taught to me by my parents - my dad was also a Hwa Chong alumni - and my teachers remained more or less intact, and were only enhanced as I learn more about myself as a human and a gay person. The distorted information presented to you by the internal counsellor is unsupported and harmful, and you need not accept them.”

To students who might be questioning your sexuality, I say to you, “Do not let others define and dictate how you turn out. Not the counsellor, not even me. Take time to do your research and read as much as you can, learn the scientific process taught by your Science teachers. Learn empathy from your Humanity teachers. Learn how to tell what is history and how it can be misinterpreted and misunderstood in time. Learn languages well so that you can source from various cultures. THEN, when you are ready, decide who you really are, and live a good life even when some desperately want you to fail.”

Yours sincerely,

Otto Fong

Always a proud Hwa Chong Old Boy, an Raffles Institution teacher and a gay person

This first appeared as a post on the Facebook page of Otto Fong on 17 July 2022. Do join in the discussion over there if you have thoughts to share.


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