Planned Screening of Gay-Themed Doc Sparks Controversy Down Under

by EDGE

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday August 27, 2015

The Telegraph, a Sydney Australia tabloid, went on a rant last week when it was announced that a local girls' high school was to screen a LGBT-friendly documentary.

According to a report by Alex McKinnon on the Aussie website Junkee, the newspaper ran a front page story with a bold-faced headline that read "GAY CLASS OUTROAR." The story reported that the Burwood Girls High School planned on screening "Gayby Baby," a new documentary about Aussie kids in same-sex parenting families. The event McKinnon wrote is "to celebrate Wear It Purple Day on August 28, an annual event that aims to combat bullying and stigma against young LGBTI people in schools. Gayby Baby was chosen to show to the kids at least in part because it's directed by a former Burwood Girls student, Maya Newell."

While Wear It Purple Day has been an event that's been celebrated throughout Australia without incident for years, "the Tele saw an opportunity to stir up some gay-panic nonsense by claiming parents are 'outraged' that their kids are being subjected to pro-gay propaganda. To back that garbage angle up, the accompanying article quotes an anonymous parent who asserts 'they have no right to teach my daughter that kind of thing,' as well as local Presbyterian Minister Mark Powell, who claims in the article that the school 'is trying to change people's minds by promoting a gay lifestyle.'"

On Wednesday, though, the Australian edition of the Guardian downplayed the Telegraph story.

"The New South Wales Department of Education has confirmed that no parents had objected to the showing of 'Gayby Baby' during class time -- plans that have now been shelved across the state on the orders of the education minister, Adrian Piccoli," the Guardian reported.

" 'The school has not received any complaints from Burwood girls high school parents,' the department said in a statement."

"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 Telegraph also published an op-ed by columnist Piers Akerman under the title "Gay push should be kept out of schools," in which he disputed "the fantasy that homosexual families are the norm." Using a quote from one of the subjects, named Ebony, of "Gayby Baby," Akerman wrote:

"Twelve-year-old Ebony is quoted saying: 'It's not normal. You're not normal.' They're the kind of things that go through my head.'

"Well, Ebony, normality is the state of being usual, typical, or expected according to the Oxford Dictionary and according to the 2011 Census, there were only around 33,700 same-sex couples in Australia, with 17,600 male same-sex couples and 16,100 female same-sex couples. Same-sex couples represented about 1 per cent of all couples in Australia -- which would indicate they do not meet the definition 'normal.' "

His op-ed was accompanied by an inflammatory cartoon that showed a school girl being soaked by a rainbow-colored liquid called "Brainwash."

The film's director Maya Newell told the Guardian that she found the flap "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.

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