New South Wales Labor MP Penny Sharpe has slammed Education Minister Adrian Piccoli’s decision to ban the screening of Gaybe Baby in state schools.
Mr Piccoli, who has never watched the documentary about four children with gay parents, claims the ban has nothing to do with the film’s content.
“Gaybe Baby must not be shown in school time so that it does not impact on the delivery of the planned lessons,” he told the state’s principals in a ministerial memorandum.
Premier Mike Baird said he supported the ban and that tolerance should be taught but outside of class hours, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Ms Sharpe, a lesbian mother-of-three, delivered a moving speech to the NSW parliament, pushing for the advancement of LGBT rights.
“I should not have to make this speech tonight. But I can’t remain silent when I know, and have seen first hand, what discrimination against the LGBT community and our families means,” she said.
“The storm over Gaybe Baby has pulled into sharp focus the tenure of the debate that LGBT families will have to endure as the campaign continues for marriage equality.”
Students from the school at the centre of the controversy, Burwood Girls High in Sydney’s inner-west, claim the school has had several interruptions of planned lessons over the past month that were all allowed to continue without ministerial intervention.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop took students out of two periods to discuss her work and touched on the issue of same-sex marriage, while earlier this year students spent time preparing food for multicultural celebrations including Chinese New Year and the Muslim Iftar dinner.
None of these events are directly relevant to the NSW school curriculum, neither is yesterday’s Wear it Purple day event, of which the film was a key part. It was also expected to interrupt classes as students celebrated the LGBTI community.
The school has received no formal complaints about the documentary and only four emails “expressing concern”.
Despite the decree, schools across the state remained defiant, shifting the planned simultaneous screening of the film at up to 20 schools in NSW from periods two and three to after-school hours.