Gender awareness programme for ‘soft students’ sparks online uproar

The picture showing the breakdown of a ‘kunyit’ programme in a school in Sabah, which has gone viral on Twitter. (Twitter pic)

PETALING JAYA: Social media users are up in arms over a viral picture of what appears to be a page in a local school magazine detailing a “kunyit” gender awareness club for “soft” boys.

“Kunyit”, the Malay word for turmeric, is a derogatory term for gay men.

The picture, which has been circulating on Twitter, shows the breakdown of a programme for 2017 including group and individual counselling sessions for 15 “soft students”.

The programme’s aims are to build students’ self-esteem as males, to help them set goals for themselves, to help them develop self-confidence and to raise awareness among other students.

It also aims to tackle students’ desire to “consider themselves as kunyit” and to make other students realise similar weaknesses in themselves.

Twitter user @cherane, who posted the picture two weeks ago, claimed it was from a prominent secondary school in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. However, the authenticity of the picture could not be confirmed.

FMT has contacted the school in question but has yet to receive a response. FMT has also reached out to the education ministry and Sabah Deputy Education and Innovation Minister Jenifer Lasimbang for comment.

Other Twitter users questioned whether the programme was mandated by the school and if the school’s Parent-Teacher Association was aware of it.

“Whose parents would have consented to their children being featured in the magazine?” asked @AwkwardLlama3, referring to a picture of eight boys in the “pictures of activities” section of the programme.

@cherane meanwhile said: “This is real. Some will probably say this is what should be done. But I think the kids will just become better at hiding themselves.

“(It’s) like we are telling them that they are unacceptable in society. That their worth is connected to how ‘manly’ they should be,” she said, adding the hashtag #CampurLGBT which refers to a pro-LGBT online campaign.

Twitter user @ybzulaklil however defended the programme, saying it was not a club and that there was a point to having such a programme in place.

He claimed many “soft students” at the school turned out transgender when they left.

“I (even) heard about this programme and it went well anyway. But… someone uploaded (this picture which led to) all sorts of comments by netizens who do not know about the original aim of this programme.”

FMT understands that the Sabah education director is investigating the issue.

Link to Twitter post and purported picture.