The NSW National Party’s push to ban two children’s books about same-sex parents has prompted the books’ author to call for the support of Sydney’s queer community.
Nationals leader Andrew Stoner last week told state parliament the books Koalas On Parade and The Rainbow Cubby House by Vicki Harding were an outrageous attempt to brainwash our kids and should be removed from NSW primary schools.
He said he had received 25 complaints about the books, which dealt with themes that were unsuitable for younger children.
This prompted Premier Bob Carr to refer the matter to the Department of Education.
Harding, who wrote the books with her eight-year-old daughter Brenna, said she was disappointed by Stoner’s remarks and believed the books play a role in promoting diversity and reducing discrimination.
I was shocked and a little bit sick of it all. I think it’s an overreaction, said Harding, who caused a political stir last year when she and her girlfriend appeared with Brenna on Play School.
Harding also rejected Stoner’s claims the books were inappropriate for young children.
As opposed to a gay agenda -¦ children are taught what -˜normal’ is. That’s why this sort of work needs to be done, so they don’t consider kids from different families to be freaks.
Harding is encouraging community members to write letters to Stoner and Carr in support of the books.
[Stoner] is reacting to letters of complaint so letters of complaint seem to be listened to, and maybe we can make that work for us rather than against us, she said.
Harding’s books are currently used in some state primary schools but are not on the official curriculum.
Stoner told the Star he and the complainants don’t have a problem with the topic of the books but that the issue is the age at which children should be exposed to these sorts of sensitive social issues.
What they’re saying is that five to seven to eight years is too young, probably, for most kids [to discuss these issues], he said.
A spokesperson for NSW Education minister Carmel Tebbutt said the books’ use is a matter for individual schools.
It’s up to the school communities to decide whether the books are useful and appropriate for their school, the spokesperson said.
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, which partly funded Koalas On Parade, said the books play an important role in increasing tolerance.
There are five- and six-year-olds who have two mums and two dads, who go to school and are faced with this situation, Lobby co-convenor David Scamell told the Star.
We think it’s important that young children are made aware of the fact that we live in a diverse society.