15:52 GMT15 January 2021
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    A film produced by high school students in Beijing which explores transgender issues has sparked heated discussions on sex education in China.

    The film, Escape (Taoli), tells the story of a transgender woman struggling with her identity and the support her classmates give her. 

    The 75-minute film, produced from January to June, was shown last week to a small group of students and parents at The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China (HSARUC), Hu Ranran, the film's director and a recent HSARUC graduate, told the Global Times.  

    Produced, directed and performed by 37 HSARUC students, much of the self-funded film was shot on or near the school's campus, Hu said. 

    Hu added that she decided to make the film because she has transgender friends, and feels both students and parents don't adequately understand the group. 

    "I hope the film convinces everyone to keep exploring themselves, and be proud of themselves for being 'minorities' in some respect," Hu said. 

    The film will be available online in August, Hu said. 

    The film has been met with mixed reviews. 

    Despite praise from fellow students, it failed to enter HSARUC's film festival this year, and was denied a public screening at the campus due to its "avant-garde" theme, Hu said. 

    "Many parents — including mine — still find the topic difficult to discuss. After watching the film, they only discussed the production and acting," Hu said. 

    Peng Xiaohui, a sexologist at Wuhan's Central China Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday  that because 99 percent of Chinese have not systematically received any sex education, the film featuring gender minorities may generate antipathy from some people and thus may impair public acceptance of their rights.

    However, educators see the film as a positive step in sex education. 

    Fang Gang, a sexologist and sociologist at Beijing Forestry University, told the Global Times that the film shows students have already learned a lot about sex education outside the classroom, and schools should no longer be nervous about sex education. 

    Fang said posters of weekly gay community meetings were also visible at The Affiliated High School of Peking University. 

    "We discuss LGBT issues in our course, but I know many high schools do not discuss gay related issues," said Wen Xueqi, a psychology teacher at the Shandong Experimental High School in Ji'nan. 

    "The film represents progress in sex education, but sex education in high schools in general still lags behind what the students know," Wen told the Global Times.


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