Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 209


EOC hosts roundtable on sexuality education reform

On 6 May 2019, the EOC co-organised the Roundtable on Reforming Sexuality Education in Hong Kong with the Lee Hysan Foundation. Drawing over 50 representatives from NGOs, school-sponsoring bodies, as well as secondary and primary schools, the event followed the release of the EOC’s report, “Break the Silence: Territory-Wide Study on Sexual Harassment of University Students in Hong Kong” earlier this year, which revealed that nearly one in four university students had experienced sexual harassment within the 12 months prior to the survey. The prevalence of the problem stems partly from gender stereotypes and misconceptions about consent that have taken root during adolescence, pointing to the urgent need for an overhaul of our sexuality education.

The roundtable began with opening remarks by Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC and Ms Cecilia HO, President of the Lee Hysan Foundation. “Sexuality education is more than a matter of teaching personal health and public hygiene,” said Mr Chu. “Essentially, it should help students develop a sense of mutual respect and a genuine belief in gender equality, as they serve as the best check against sexual harassment. More should be done to improve sexuality education in Hong Kong towards that end.”

An eclectic line-up of panellists contributed to two discussion sessions, namely “How to Reform the Sexuality Education Curriculum of Hong Kong” and “How to Effectively Implement Comprehensive Sexuality Education”. The first session was moderated by Prof Susanne CHOI, Convenor of the EOC’s Working Group on Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign, and featured Ms Mandy CHEUNG, Programme Director of AIDS Concern, Dr Diana KWOK, Assistant Professor at the Department of Special Education and Counselling, The Education University of Hong Kong, Ms Grace LEE, Education Manager of the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, Dr Angela NG, Vice-Chairperson of End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation, and Ms Linda WONG, Executive Director of Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women.

Speaking on the second panel were Ms Wendy FUNG, Senior Social Worker of Hong Kong Family Welfare Society, Ms LO Kin-ling, a moral and civic education teacher, Mr TO Kar-hing, Vice-Chairperson of Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, and Dr Hon Helena WONG, Legislative Council Member and Secretary of Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, while Mr CHONG Yiu-kwong, Deputy Convenor of the EOC’s Working Group on Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign acted as the moderator.

Dr Ferrick CHU, Acting Chief Operations Officer of the EOC, was also present to share insights from the Commission’s recent study on sexual harassment at local universities, while Mr Charlie CHAN, Service Head of Youth and Community Service, Caritas pitched in with his experience in delivering sexuality education programmes in secondary schools. Currently, the Lee Hysan Foundation funds Caritas as well as Rainlily to help conduct a comprehensive sexuality programme and related training for teachers at more than 20 secondary schools.

The participants of the roundtable all agreed that a deeper awareness of gender equality should be promoted among all teaching staff, on top of teachers responsible for sexuality education. Providing incentives for teachers to receive relevant training was precisely one of the recommendations the EOC submitted to the Education Bureau in October last year. The submission aimed to make suggestions on how sexuality education in Hong Kong could be reformed to cultivate values of gender equality and positive attitudes towards intimacy among the younger generation. For details on the submission and the study released this year, please click the links below.