A Chinese kindergarten teacher who was dismissed last summer allegedly because of his sexuality has filed a lawsuit against his former employer to get his job back.
According to Beijing News, Míng Yù 明钰 (not his real name) worked at Qingdao Cute Baby Kingdom Kindergarten (青岛萌宝王国托育园) in Qingdao, a coastal city in China’s eastern province of Shandong. After taking the matter to labor arbitration, the teacher was awarded six months’ salary as compensation last November.
In the lawsuit, Ming’s demands include reinstatement and more money: back-payments for lost work and unused paid holidays.
While Ming says he was forced to resign, the kindergarten’s investor, Wèi Wénquán 魏文全, says Ming chose to resign after receiving several complaints from parents.
The story has attracted thousands of comments on Chinese social media and news outlets. “It’s very sad to see such news,” one online user wrote. “I hope society can be more inclusive. Maybe a couple years later, if my kid tells me he’s fallen in love with someone of the same gender, he’ll be received with understanding and best wishes from those around him.”
Another said, “You people don’t understand how parents think. Parents want to minimize the risks their children face. You people without kids don’t share that same feeling.” That commenter later added, “Yes, I am being homophobic, so what?”
Chinese laws do not prohibit LGBTQ individuals from becoming teachers. However, there occasionally are random requirements, such as height. In 2018, a Chinese teacher was denied a position because of her height.
While homosexuality is not criminalized in China, the LGBTQ community remains marginalized and often face discrimination. In April 2018, Chinese social media Sina Weibo initiated a crackdown on gay content, a move that received huge backlash on Chinese social media and prompted the People’s Daily to editorialize, “Homosexuality is not a mental illness.”
Activists and artists in China have launched active campaigns to call for more understanding of the LGBTQ community, though the process is still ongoing.
Additional reporting by Jiayun Feng