Australian schools banned from showing documentary about gay parents
A film aimed at kids to help promote acceptance and equality for kids with same-sex parents has been banned from being shown in schools in New South Wales.
‘Gayby Baby’, directed by Maya Newell, follows four children raised by same-sex couples over a period of several years.
The film, which is available this month on streaming services, follows Gus, 10, Ebony, 12, Graham, 11, and Matt, 11, and the kids’ families.
Newell said she wanted to focus the spotlight on the kids, who are often debated, but not often asked their opinions on having same-sex parents.
Despite plans by the production team to preview the film in 40 schools across Australia, those in New South Wales were told they could not screen it during school hours.
Newell said she first knew of the growing controversy when her publicist called her at 5am one day last August, and alerted her to a Sydney Daily Telegraph front page with the headline “Gay Class Uproar”.
The tagline on the Telegraph read: “Parents outraged as Sydney school swaps lessons for PC movie session.”
But New South Wales Education Minister Adrian Piccoli issued a memo to all school principals saying the film could not be shown during class hours.
The director, as well as being mortified that her film had been painted in that way in the headlines, said she heard of students from LGBT families being bullied that day in school.
“There were kids that had never been bullied before, who were bullied that day at school because of that headline and what these politicians were saying,” said Newell.
She and co-filmmaker Charlotte Mars said most of the film’s critics hadn’t even seen the film, and that amid the controversy they were congratulated by friends for receiving publicity.
The Telegraph article, however, quoted a minister who said “schools are supposed to be neutral”, claiming that parents had complained that their kids would watch the documentary during school hours.
However since the apparent backlash, the Gaybe Baby project has received hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations.
Mars and Newell have since launched the outreach Gayby Project, linked to the themes of the film.
They have also approached a number of high profile politicians to show them the film in the hope that it will be seen by more people.
Newell draws from her own experience of being raised by lesbians.
“When my mother came out, my grandmother was devastated because she thought it meant that her daughter would never have a family and that she would lead a lonely barren life,” she says.
“So one of the greatest responses we’ve had has been people who’ve come up to us and say that after watching the movie, they really wanted to start a family.”
“The question we often get as kids [of LGBT parents] is: ‘What’s it like being raised by two moms? How’s it different?” adds Newell.
“And it’s like, ‘Different than what?’ Like everything, some things are different and some things are the same.”
After legislation, Newell says, the cultural shift is what is most important, and the biggest aim of the film.
The Premier in New South Wales Mike Baird apologised last year, and said he was “distressed” after he backed banning showings of a gay parenting film.
Check out the Gayby Baby trailer below: