Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has taken Mike Baird, his wildly popular conservative colleague across the border, to task over the NSW government’s stance on screening a documentary about same-sex couples with children in state schools.
Controversy over screening “Gayby Baby” flared yesterday after a tabloid newspaper claimed parents at Burwood Girls High in Sydney’s inner-west had “slammed” the school for planning to screen the documentary and were angry at it “for taking political stance on the issue”.
Prefects from the school subsequently issued a statement on Facebook saying they were disappointed by the media coverage.
“We pride ourselves on our support of diversity – in whatever form it takes,” they said. “We consider ourselves leaders in the push for equality and acceptance – for all people.
“When it is considered that the LGBTIQ community has the highest rates of suicide of any population in Australia and experience significantly higher rates of mental health issues, we consider our support to be just one small step in creating better understanding in the community.”
A local church claimed the film “promotes a gay lifestyle”. The partly crowd-funded film was shown in Parliament House in Sydney on Tuesday.
The promotional poster for it includes a quote from writer Benjamin Law describing the film as “A tender, intimate and unmissable look into the lives of families who are needlessly politicised.”
Yesterday NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli banned any classroom screenings. Around 20 NSW schools planned to show it simultaneously on Friday as part of national “Wear it Purple Day” campaign for sexual inclusion in schools.
“I have directed the Department of Education to ensure the film is not shown during school hours,” the minister said in a statement.
The film’s director, Maya Newell, is a former student at Burwood Girls High. She issued a statement saying: “We firmly believe our film has positive benefits for all students.”
“Creating inclusive classroom and valuing family diversity promotes student wellbeing and acceptance of difference. There is no place for bullying, homophobia or discrimination in Australian public schools,” she said.
NSW premier Mike Baird that while he supported tolerance, he did not believe the film should be screened during school time.
“Should it be in class time? No, I don’t think so. Should it be optional? Yes, I do think so,” he said.
Today Victoria’s Labor leader, Daniel Andrews, took to Facebook, which Baird has used effectively in recent months to spread his own messages to say he was “getting really sick of this stuff”.
Here’s what Andrews said:
Gayby Baby is an award-winning Australian documentary about same-sex parents who are raising beautiful families.
[My wife] Cath and I took our kids to see the movie recently when it was showing at the Melbourne International Film Festival. They loved it and so did we.
But apparently the NSW Government thinks it’s all too confusing and distressing a subject for high school students.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
All kids need to know there are lots of different kinds of families, and all kids need to know that the most important thing in any family is love.
And this isn’t just about what young people might think of the movie.
I’m also worried about what they might think of themselves.
Young people who are same-sex attracted often lead a quietly difficult life and they deserve our full support.
If you want to talk about things that confuse and distress young people, let’s talk about telling thousands upon thousands of them that they aren’t ‘normal’.
No one deserves that – and it’s just not true.
We won’t put up with this kind of cruel rubbish in our state.
If any young person is hurt by all this, please know that I stand with you. I’m on your side. So is the Victorian Government.
You can watch film’s trailer here and decide for yourself:
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