Books ‘reflect new families’
Labor has defended children’s books that depict families with same-sex parents in NSW Parliament, more than a year after the Premier called them as “inappropriate”.
The debate was refuelled by Nationals leader Andrew Stoner who claimed Labor was funding “gay causes” in education through books like the Rainbow Cubbyhouse.
“Books were produced to help combat bullying,” Labor MLC Amanda Fazio said.
“Children who come from same-sex parent families have a valuable role to play in the school system as any other children. They should not be discriminated against.”
She went on to read the entire story of Koalas on Parade by Vicki Harding and her daughter Brenna, that contains two fleeting mentions of two mothers, and wondered why Stoner considered it subversive.
Lesbian mother and MLC Penny Sharpe said she was glad her children’s education would not be predicated on the world circa 1950.
“I am also proud that my daughter goes to the public school where the books were developed by a young girl who, in year two, realised that she needed to have books that reflected her family circumstance,” Sharpe said.
Harding said she was thrilled to have support for the books.
“Even when they’re being condemned, sales go up, which means people who need these stories are hearing about them,” she said.
When news of the books’ existence in a Tempe childcare centre broke in the media, Premier Morris Iemma joined a chorus questioning their appropriateness.
This put the Labor leader at odds with many in his party, including federal MP Tanya Plibersek who wrote endorsements for the series.
But this time the only criticism came from Christian Democrat leader Fred Nile, who called for the books to be rejected by school principals.
Liberal MLC Robyn Parker said Stoner was suggesting the government was not providing the right sort of environment that should exist in public schools.