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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Anti-homophobia books removed after religious protest

Books aimed at discouraging kids from homophobic bullying have been removed from two Bristol (UK) primary schools after protests from mainly Muslim parents.

The parents complained that the story books had been introduced without consultation (all other books are, presumably, introduced only after all parents have approved).

Bristol Council says it's temporarily withdrawn the books from Easton Primary School and Bannerman Road Community School and Children's Centre so it could "meet [its] legal responsibilities and operate safely". Operate safely? That's ominous.

Farooq Siddique, community development officer for Bristol Muslim Cultural Society, says, "In Islam homosexual relationships are not acceptable, as they are not in Christianity and many other religions, but the main issue is that they didn't bother to consult with parents. There was no option to withdraw the child.

"One of the library books was a fairytale about a king who couldn't find a woman to love and eventually married a prince. This was for children aged five to read."

One assumes a child of five would be OK reading about a king who married a princess, Mr Siddique. In children's stories in Western culture, young people are exposed to man–woman relationships all the time, whether it's a prince kissing a beautiful sleeping princess or Cinderella marrying Prince Charming. Let's pose some questions to Mr Siddique.
  • Would you wish to be consulted before "The Sleeping Beauty" was read to children or appeared in a school book?
  • Are children not exposed to the idea of woman–man relationships as soon as they become aware of Mummy and Daddy and of Auntie Flo and Uncle Bert?
  • Are same-sex relationships not legal in this country?
  • Are civil partnerships not legal in this country?
  • Are young children not going to be aware of same-sex relationships in real life (and we’re not talking about sex here, just visible relationships, in the home, in the street, on the telly)?
  • So where is the harm in introducing them to this concept in stories?
Just asking.

1 comment:

Anastasia Hayward said...

I am a lesbian parent in a Civil Partnership, and my children are coming home from school asking why people think its wrong for a boy to go out with a boy, or a girl with a girl. They see absolutely no representations of families like ours in any of the books or teaching materials. As far as school is concerned, we don't exist.