Outrage as gay parenting film banned in New South Wales schools
A political row has broken out in Australia after New South Wales' Minister for Education directed his department to stop schools from showing pupils a documentary about same-sex parenting.
The mass screening of Maya Newell's 2015 film Gayby Baby at 50 schools across the state was planned as part of 'Wear It Purple Day', where pupils are encouraged to wear purple to show their support for their LGBT classmates - but after manufactured tabloid outrage over the plans earlier this week, education minister Adrian Piccoli has decided to stop the film being shown.
The decision came after sensational media reports in the Daily Telegraph claiming that parents at Burwood Girls High School in Sydney - where the film's director studied - were "outraged" over the planned screening.
"Schools are not places for political issues to be aired," Piccoli - whose decision to ban the film from classrooms has been backed by the premier of New South Wales - told 2GB radio on Wednesday.
"During school hours we expect them to be doing maths and English and curriculum matters. This movie is not part of the curriculum and that’s why I’ve made that direction."
The Department of Education has since confirmed to The Guardian that it did not receive a single complaint from any parent at the school about the film.
A spokeswoman for the New South Wales Green party, Jenny Leong, said she was "disgusted" that Piccoli had "caved in to a trashy and offensive headline by the Daily Telegraph".
A parent at the school, Genevieve, added that parents had been clearly told that the screening was optional.
"It’s PG-rated, and from what I understand it’s about families and parents and there’s nothing overtly sexual about, or offensive", she said.
"That’s exactly where they should be learning stuff like this."
Gayby Baby officially opens in cinemas next month, and Newell told Guardian Australia the controversy was “quite upsetting and disappointing”.
"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 trials and tribulations of growing up.
"The fact they have gay parents is really minor."
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