Gayby Baby: the Film Every Kid Should See
Written by Maddy Crehan
On Friday the 28th of February a documentary titled Gayby Baby was due to be screened in up to 50 schools across Australia, including 20 schools in New South Wales, as part of a nationwide Wear it Purple day campaign for sexual inclusion in schools. The film follows the lives of four children growing up in Australia with same-sex parents. However NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, has issued a state-wide ban of the screening during school hours.
This decision came after Piccoli personally intervened to prevent Burwood Girls screening the film to 1200 students, after a front page article in the Daily Telegraph labelled the film as ‘political propaganda’ and Principal Mia Kumur as a ‘serial offender’. The film is rated PG and does not include any violent, grotesque or inappropriate scenes. It is not a controversial film.
Reverend Mark Powell is one of the few people opposed to the screening of the film, claiming that “children’s rights are being denied” by making the airing compulsory. He goes on to argue that he is concerned for the wellbeing of students who don’t support gay rights claiming that “they are the ones who are feeling ostracised” in schools. What baffles me about this is that he is arguing that people are feeling ostracised for ostracising others. The very point of Wear It Purple day is to promote diversity and inclusion of all students. Wishing to not be a part of that is sending a message that not everyone deserves to be treated as equal.
The irony of Powell’s concern for “victimisation and intimidation of young vulnerable people” is that people that are part of the queer community have been experiencing this very victimisation and discrimination for generations. This is not an issue of intolerant people feeling slightly uncomfortable with what they don’t understand, the real issue is that certain kids have been taught by society that they are not normal because of their sexual orientation, or their parents’ sexual orientation, and the government’s decision to ban a film promoting acceptance only reinforces this belief.
A study released last year by the Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre, Growing Up Queer, estimated 16 per cent of GLBTQI young Australians had attempted suicide and a third had harmed themselves, largely due to homophobic harassment. It also revealed that as many as two in three non-heterosexual young Australians have been bullied about their sexual orientation. Considering these statistics Powell is completely contradicting himself in saying that he is concerned for the wellbeing of students.
A key argument in the debate against marriage equality is that it is harmful to the children of same sex partners. However studies have shown that overall the wellbeing of kids with gay parents is equivalent to those in heterosexual families. The only hardship these kids are experiencing is the discrimination forced upon them by society, not by their parents. Director of the film Maya Newell seeks to give a voice to the children of queer parents, who are so often being spoken for in what has become a political debate.
Principle Mia Kumur was merely attempting to eradicate intolerance in schools by presenting students with information, not by forcing political propaganda, and I commend her for that. Many people at the school feel the same way, one student questioning the ban stating “we have four days for Christian religious seminars, why can’t we have two periods for the LGBTIQ plus community?” Many parents are also praising the school’s decision to show the film, including father Paul Bastain, who said he is so proud that his “daughter gets the academic education and the social education.” Students should be given every alternate view in order to develop their own opinion and think for themselves. This film provides information; it does not force a political ideology. This needs to stop being a political debate, but rather a debate of what is right and wrong, it’s as simple as that.
Maddy volunteers for Rosie and is passionate about music, history, art and gender equality
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