3 arrested over protest against transphobia outside MOE building – CNA

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SINGAPORE: Three individuals were arrested on Tuesday (Jan 26) evening after a protest was held against transphobia outside the Ministry of Education (MOE) building. 

In response to queries by CNA, police said late on Tuesday night the three, aged between 19 and 32, were arrested for allegedly taking part in a public assembly without a permit. 

At about 5pm on Tuesday, a group of five had “allegedly staged a protest” outside MOE headquarters along Buona Vista Drive with placards stating “#FIX SCHOOLS NOT STUDENTS”, “WHY ARE WE NOT IN YOUR SEX ED”, “HOW CAN WE GET A’s WHEN YOUR CARE FOR US IS AN F”, “trans students will NOT be erased” and “trans students deserve access to HEALTHCARE & SUPPORT”, said the police. 

The group did not have a police permit to carry out the public assembly, and when the police arrived, only three individuals remained. 

“The police warned them to cease their activities as they were liable for offence under the Public Order Act. However, they ignored the police’s warning and continued with their activities,” said the police. 

“The group was then issued with a ‘Move-on’ direction under Section 36 of the Public Order Act and were told that they would be arrested if they failed to adhere to the direction. The three refused to comply despite the police’s repeated warnings, and were arrested under the Public Order Act at around 5.35pm.” 

Five placards, two multi-coloured flags and a blue bag were seized in relation to the case. The three individuals were released on bail at about 10pm and investigations are ongoing, said the police. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Community Action Network SG said in a statement that a group of students and supporters were planning to stage a protest at 5pm on Tuesday, calling on Education Minister Lawrence Wong to “end discrimination against LGBTQ+ students by MOE schools”. 

They also intended to call on Mr Wong to “uphold the fundamental rights of all students to education within a safe and supportive school life”.

In the statement, the protesters also urged the education ministry to acknowledge and apologise for “the harm done by schools to LGBTQ+ through their schools’ discriminatory practices”.  

Earlier this month, a student wrote in a Reddit post that MOE had prevented her from obtaining a doctor’s referral letter to begin hormone therapy.

The ministry denied these claims two days later, saying it was “not true” that it had interfered with the student’s treatment and inviting the student to approach the school to “clarify and discuss how the school can support his schooling better”. 

On Jan 21, MOE released a joint statement with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), saying that the final decisions on the use of hormone therapy “rest with clinicians and their patients”. 

“Such treatments also require the written consent from parents (where minors are concerned),” said MOE and IMH.  

“Within the school setting, the schools work closely with IMH and the parents to support these students, and to maintain a conducive learning environment.

“In this case, the school is committed to providing the education support the student needs to graduate, including via home-based learning.”

READ: MOE says ‘not true’ that it interfered with transgender student’s hormone therapy

READ: Final decisions on use of hormonal therapy ‘rest with clinicians and their patients’: MOE, IMH

According to the student, who only wanted to be known as Ashlee, she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2019 and notified the school’s management of her diagnosis in March 2020. 

She was then asked to confirm this via a letter from her IMH psychiatrist, she told TODAY. The letter was reportedly given to the school and MOE the same month, and the education ministry told her through the school that it would work with her to understand her diagnosis and make school conducive for her. 

But when she was to proceed with hormone replacement therapy in August, she was informed by the psychiatrist that MOE had told the doctor to consult the ministry before any decision could be made regarding treatments for transgender students, Ashlee told TODAY. 

Because of this, she has not received the letter to begin hormone replacement therapy, she said. 

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