Bootcamp bullies: Lesson from the Princess Boy
Yesterday, my heart broke. I read tweets regarding the Terengganu State Education Department sending 66 boys – identified for being effeminate and having feminine tendencies – to a bootcamp “aimed at helping them behave in a proper manner”.
Never mind the stereotypes and moral judgements that the authorities are imposing, I feel so sad for the boys – who are just being themselves – to be identified, targeted and separated from their peers.
I’m not going to go into what I feel about the issue; much has already been said about it on Twitter. I will say this though, such profiling is nothing more than BULLYING.
Coincidentally, when going through the CNN app on my iPad earlier today, I came across a video about this kid known as “Princess Boy”.
From my understanding, he gave himself the name, but his mum has used it as the title for her book about a mother coming to terms and celebrating the uniqueness of her child. The website for My Princess Boy reads:
My Princess Boy is a nonfiction picture book about acceptance. It tells the tale of a 4-year-old boy who happily expresses his authentic self by enjoying “traditional girl” things like jewelry, sparkles or anything pink. It is designed to start and continue a dialogue about unconditional friendship and teachers children – and adults – how to accept and support children for who they are and how they wish to look.
I hope everyone – from the reporters/editors of the newspaper that has used the word “sissies” to describe those 66 kids, the authorities and teachers who decided to target those schoolkids and the lecturer who thinks that boys being made to do housework without being taught about gender roles (hello, equality?) will end up “female-like”- will watch this video and have a change of heart. I find it so hard to accept that we live in a place where bullying is formalised, where we will punish our kids for being different and where we cannot respect the rights and dignity of an individual, let alone children.
I also want to credit Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil for speaking out about the issue – although her perspective is slightly different from mine. She spoke about how this is a violation of the Child Act 2001, and said in the article:
“Such profiling has potentially serious psychological repercussions and could harm the development and mental health of the children, as it exposes them to prejudices among their peers and members of their family and community.”
I wish she also spoke about the gender issue but I think, we need to focus on helping the kids first. Many people have spoken out about this. I hope the federal Ministry of Education will also join in the condemnation of such actions. Most of all, I hope the MOE will joined Shahrizat to actually get the kids out instead of just speaking out against what they are going through.
If My Princess Boy author Cheryl Kilodavis’ older son, still a kid, could reach out to her to accept his brother by saying, “Mum, why don’t you just let him be happy?”, I don’t see why educated adults cannot be as mature as he is.
11.37pm Singapore time (+8 GMT)