Rachel ZENG

Rachel ZENG


I have been called an immoral teacher by conservatives who are not even in the teaching profession. I have been told that, if versions of me walked freely in this society, educated our children, society would fall into ruin.

What kind of society would we have?

But children don’t choose how they are born; they do not discriminate until the seed of the idea is planted in their minds. Our education does this.

Mr. Ali is a security guard, Mr. Tan is always a teacher. Mr. and Mrs. Chan are going to the cinema, Mr. and Mrs. Hassan go to the Zoo with their children…

The graphics are majority focused, so much so we forget minorities exist. It’s subliminal, subtle. I wrote the National Library Board asking about LGBTQ-friendly children’s books and I never got a reply to my request. We should have more diversity in schools, with fewer stereotypes.

Nurses are always female, Firemen are, well… men. Language constructs, it builds boxes.

These images become the language, the ways in which we grow up. People discriminate because of a mixture of things – home, school, society and of course, media. We have no positive portrayal of LGBTQ people. People always think it is ‘normal’ to marry someone of the opposite sex, and ‘not normal’ to think otherwise.

Neutrality is a myth.

A person is just a person. I don’t look at someone and consciously think, oh this person is gay, lesbian, bisexual. When someone tries to impose their ideas on me, I am offended. I reject this. I have nothing against anybody until they try to impose their ideas on me.

Fairytales are myths. They should disappear.

I showed my students videos of Diana walking through fields of live landmines. They think princesses wear dresses and sit around all day in comfort. Ugh. So many stereotypes exist. In the pre-school where I work we have nap-time. A boy in my class crawled over to another and kissed her while she was sleeping. He got a proper lecture from me. He said, he wanted to kiss the girl, like how Sleeping Beauty is woken from her 100 year somnambulistic prison.

Stepmothers are not all evil, the Big Bad Wolf is always… a male… well, wolf.

The first time I received a warning from the police was for handing out flyers in Orchard Road. We were handing out information about the Death Penalty. We were hand out our flyers next to at least three or four other pairs of people who were also handing out flyers. But the police knew to approach us. There were almost 10 of them. I think we didn’t look threatening. To be fair they were cordial and we had a nice chat with them. I got three warning letters sent to my home and my parents were very upset.

There was nothing we wrote in those flyers that was not extracted from information in The Straits Times. In 2009 M. Ravi had approached me and I have been on-board the protest campaign for the death penalty since then. It’s a journey of self-discovery and realization, that my skills can be used in different area. Before this I was a designer, till I realized that I wanted to be involved in the community in a different way. Teaching children is so key; it’s part of shaping how they think. Like I said before, we teach discrimination even before our children have time to grow, to see our community for what it is.

LGBTQ issues are for me a human rights issue. Regardless of religion, race – our choices should be respected, as long as we not harming anyone. In secondary school there were girls who said they were not interested in boys, not interested in dating and others would ask if they were lesbian. What’s wrong with that, so what, I used to think. To be frank it’s a period when a lot of young people are trying to figure things out, and I don’t think the school or teachers were able to cope. They would have asked her (typically) to concentrate on her studies.

Mr. and Mrs. Tan want to buy a car. A car costs…

My cousin came out as a lesbian – now she is 30 and only her family knows about it. They are pretty conservative. She has photos on Facebook, so I think the cousins know. She came out to her mum when she was in Polytechnic – her mum is very open, not the traditional sort. Dad doesn’t know, thinks her girlfriend who stayed over a lot is just a friend. Then she went to Australia, dated a guy for a bit. She’s my cousin, her choice is accepted.

I’d confront any person who says something discriminatory. I post all kinds of information on my wall, I have an active blog.

Straight people don’t ‘come out’ as straight, why is sexual orientation an issue at all?

Most of all, I want fairytales to disappear.