An Australian education minister has defended himself after banning every public school in his area from screening a film about children with gay parents, prompting a controversy over the documentary.
New South Wales Education Minister Adrian Piccoli refused to allow the mass-screening of 'Gaybe Baby' which was planned to take place in around 50 schools around the country for the nationwide 'Wear it Purple' day, which supports inclusion of LGBT pupils in schools.
A spokeswoman for the minister said the ban for the 20 schools in New South Wales set to take part was to "avoid students missing out on class" but said that he had no issues about the documentary's content.
The film 'Gaybe Baby' was given a PG rating in Australia
Anger is growing over the decision after it was revealed that claims of "numerous complaints" from parents to one school were apparently untrue.
Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed there had been a "backlash" and "outrage" from parents at Burwood girls high, whose former pupils made the film and which planned to show it it 1200 students this Friday, followed by purple cupcakes and a fashion show "under a rainbow flag".
But no complaints have in fact been made, according to a statement from the NSW state department given to The Guardian.
The Daily Telegraph also ran a comment piece arguing that the film was a "gay push" that should be kept out a schools.
The comment piece said Burwood high school's principle was a "serial offender" and the film was made by "political propagandists who have seized her school’s agenda."
It added that "Children in same-sex couple families are one in a thousand of all children in couple families (0.1 per cent). Statistically, you are not in a “normal” family, no matter how many LGBTIQ-friendly docos you may be forced to watch by politically-driven school principals."
Wear It Purple day is run by a Sydney-based anti-homophobia group run by students, which aims to stop "ignorance, bullying and suicides" caused by discrimination towards LGBT people.
Gaybe Baby follows four children with gay parents. Its director Maya Newell told The Guardian: “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.”
The minister, Piccoli, told 2GB Radio: “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.”
He has previously been a vocal supporter of anti-homophobic campaigns, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich called the decision to prevent the film from being shown during school hours "absurd and deeply disappointing".