By removing three children’s books based on the feedback of a few people, the National Library Board has made enemies of many writers and members the LGBT community. The “pro-family” stance is now, unfortunately, looking like a “pro-stupidity” one. By Deborah Tan
I’m just going to come right out to say it: YOU have no right telling me how to live my life. YOU – the “concerned” public, the “pro-family” public, the public with the most narrow-minded view on what constitutes as “family” – have no business telling me what I should read or should not read.
I’m sick and tired of YOU defining the “family unit” as one that consists of a father, a mother, and a child. I’m sick and tired of you forcing your own narrow-minded definition of what makes a “family unit” down everyone’s throats.
I’m sick and tired of YOU using the “family” to decide what is right and what is wrong. Stop using the “family” card like it’s the ONE moral compass Singapore should abide by.
But you know who’s worse than YOU?
People and organizations who listen to you and take action upon receiving your “feedback”. For the longest time, I have always wondered WHY the “most conservative” section of the society always get to have their “feedback” acted upon.
When I was working in magazines, we constantly had to deal with “concerned members of the public” who would complain about articles that talked about one-night stands, or about celebrities wearing low-cut dresses. To keep them happy, instead of saying, “My boyfriend and I spent the weekend in bed”, we had to rephrase “boyfriend” as “partner” because “partner” could mean “husband” and, you know, only married people are supposed to have sex. Interviewing a man with a boyfriend? We would have to refer to his boyfriend as “his partner” because that doesn’t actually say the “partner” is a man.
There are other things that make up this world and just because they don’t fit one person’s idea of what is good, it doesn’t mean they are bad. Pandering to the loudest person in the room doesn’t mean you are doing something right.
Words cannot explain how disappointed I am with the National Library Board’s decision to remove the books “And Tango Makes Three”, “The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption” and “Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families” from its shelves.
A library is a place where people go to read up on a wide variety of topics and genres. It is where you go to read books written from different perspectives so you can FORM YOUR OWN OPINIONS. A library has no business telling us what we should or should not be reading. It certainly should not be acting on the opinions of anyone – vocal minority or silent majority. Rather, it should act on whether a book has the ability to inform and educate.
Can animal-lovers ask for books on Hello Kitty to be removed because they feature a cat that is anatomically wrong and may lead people to believe that cats should have their mouths cut out? Can women ask for the removal of Archie comics because all self-respecting women should not stand for a guy who vacillates between 2 girls and sometimes dates both?
The point is, in the world of books and literature THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG. A library provides the material and information so people can decide for themselves.
By having children’s books that promote an alternative view of Family isn’t wrong. Rather, you offer parents the opportunity to open their kids’ minds and broaden their views of the real world. Do you not think it is important for children to grow up understanding that such topics are not taboo and that they are not society’s outcasts for thinking they might want something different? It’s not just an education for the kids, but also an education for parents who need to learn how to embrace their children for who they will become.
Here’s what it means to be a family:
A family is a group of people who will unconditionally love and support each other through the good times and the bad. Whether a child is healthy, ill, or handicapped, the family will always see him/her as perfect. In a family, we accept everyone for who they are. Some families have a husband and a wife. Some, have a father, a mother, and a child. Some families are made up of two parents of the same gender. Some, are great with just a single parent bringing up a child. Some families are made up of friends – my Material World partners are my family too.
So if you really think families are made up only of heterosexual people, then you only have to look at the Lannisters in Game Of Thrones to see how off the mark you really are.
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She will remove all “pro-stupid” comments from this post. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.