A documentary about same-sex parenting which was to be screened at Burwood High School earlier this week was banned from going ahead by the New South Wales education minister, Adrian Piccoli.
Piccoli stated that his reasons were due to the amount of complaints the school had received since the announcement.
“During school hours we expect them to be doing maths and English and curriculum matters.” Piccoli told 2GB Radio.” This movie is not part of the curriculum and that’s why I’ve made that direction.
The film, produced by Burwood Girl High alumna, Maya Newell, was meant to be screened as part of an initiative called ‘Wear it Purple day’ – a movement co-founded by student Katherine Hudson five years ago to promote and increase acceptance of LGBTI youth.
“LGBTI youth are 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and up to 50% of transgender young people have attempted to take their own life,” Hudson told the ABC.
Since the inflammatory comments by Daily Telegraph journalist, Piers Akerman – who lambasted one of the characters involved in the documentary, an inquest into the validity of Piccoli’s direction has revealed a falsity to his claims of parental unrest.
Whilst Akerman and Piccoli insisted complaints were made by parents, an investigation into this claim by The Guardian concluded no such complaints were made.
The NSW Department of Education confirmed this report stating that no one had objected to the film being shown during class time.
“The school has not received any complaints from Burwood girls high school parents,” the department revealed in a statement.
The NSW Greens spokeswoman on gender identity, Jenny Leong, spoke about the abhorrent comments made by the media and was “disgusted” that Piccoli had “caved in to a trashy and offensive headline by the Daily Telegraph”
“Gayby Baby is an important and wonderful film telling the stories of a number of families in NSW from the children’s perspective,” Ms Leong said.
However, Piccoli insists his intervention was not driven by the movie’s subject matter, but rather the inconvenient showing time – during school hours.
“There is no issue with the content as such, the issue is whether it was appropriate from the curriculum perspective to show it to the entire school from year 7 to year 12.”
Wear it Purple day is promoted by the Safe School Coalition, whose aim is to promote awareness of the challenges faced by LGBTI students.
Newell spoke out about the news, sharing her disappointment that such a controversy would cast shade on a day that should be celebrating diversity instead of stifling it.
“Once again on the front page of the newspaper we’ve got all sorts of messaging going out to families and kids saying, ‘You know what, your family isn’t good enough, your parents aren’t good enough’.” she said.
“The film is so innocent. It’s actually much more about four kids who are traversing oncoming puberty, who are dealing with the trails and tribulations of growing up. The fact they have gay parents is really minor.”
Would you like to see this film shown in your local school?