Opposition leader Mark Latham joined his political opponents in speaking out against a lesbian family’s appearance on Play School this week.

Latham told Channel Nine’s Today Show he was happy for his young son to be exposed to the many aspects of our diverse society, but said he would prefer to lead him down that path himself.

As a parent I would prefer if they could leave these things to the parents rather than do it through ABC TV.

Vicki Harding, Jackie Braw and daughter Brenna appeared on Play School‘s Through The Windows segment on Monday last week. In the segment, Brenna talked about her mums taking her and a friend to a theme park.

Although the footage had been shown before without causing controversy, last week’s screening inspired federal Children and Youth Affairs minister Larry Anthony to accuse the show of trying to represent minorities and being too politically correct.

Federal Communications minister Daryl Williams said he would raise the matter with the ABC board. And Prime Minister John Howard, who was overseas when the segment screened, told reporters the segment was an example of the ABC running an agenda. Howard said the issue was more appropriate for Lateline, which screens after 10:30pm.

Harding told Sydney Star Observer although her family were coping well with the publicity, they were angered by Mark Latham’s decision to side with the federal government.

I’m not sure that any of them even saw it, Harding said. And I don’t think there was anything scary in it.

I would love to see a little bit more awareness and tolerance from the government, but I doubt that we’re going to see that. I’m not sure they even really care, or if they’ve just picked an opportunity to say something that they think might help with the upcoming election.

Harding said she hoped the publicity surrounding the segment would create greater awareness of same-sex parents.

A lot of people probably think they don’t know any lesbian families but because this has been in the papers right around Aus-tralia, including rural areas, maybe somebody is thinking -˜okay, that’s not so scary’.

Gay and lesbian rights activists expressed disappointment in the Play School controversy and Latham’s comments.

In April Mark Latham included same-sex couples within his -˜widening circle of mateship’ and, ever since, he’s done nothing but narrow that circle and push us out, Equal Rights Network spokesperson Rodney Croome said.

I think this episode exposes the fact LGBT community in Australia has not made the progress that some people believe it has. But at the same time the impression I get is that most parties have misread the public on this.

A spokesperson from Mark Latham’s office told the Star he made the comments in response to a question from the Today Show, and hadn’t spoken on the issue since. Shadow Communications minister Lindsay Tanner told the ABC he understood there were parents concerned about the Play School segment, but it was not the government’s place to tell the ABC what to include in its programs.

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