Monday, May 29, 2006

The Daily Telegraph - "Gay-friendly centre angers parents"

THE Mayor of a Sydney suburb whose council-funded childcare centre teaches a gay and lesbian "friendly" curriculum has been rebuked by a Federal Minister and earnt the ire of family groups.
Marrickville Mayor Sam Byrne has backed the controversial curriculum taught at the council-run Tillman Park Childcare Centre in Tempe.

The mayor defended the use of gay-friendly story books to "challenge the perception" of children aged from six weeks to six years about gay, lesbian and "transgender" parenting.

He backed the Learn to Include books as "broadening the minds of our future generation".

But The Daily Telegraph can today reveal that some parents enrolling children at Tillman Park were not told of the books.

Mother-of-four Bobbie Davies, whose daughter is due to start at the centre, said she did not see why three-year-old Abby needed to be exposed to adult concepts.

Ms Davies, 26, said the children were "too young" to grasp gay and lesbian issues or sexual identity.

"The under-fives, don't need to know about sex," she said.

Ms Davies said she would consider asking the centre why they thought it appropriate to introduce such concepts.

Somchai Saelao, whose son Joey went to the Tillman Park centre last year, said it was more appropriate to teach young children social skills.

Federal Family and Community Services Minister Mal Brough called the curriculum "ridiculous".

As family groups demanded he cut taxpayer subsidies to the centre, Mr Brough said it was time to "let kids be kids".

"Read them fairytales and not make their life more complicated. At that age children should be fingerpainting and having fun, not learning about social behaviour which many parents regard as beyond their years," he said.

The Australian Family Association's NSW branch said the childcare centre was usurping the rights of parents to teach their children about sex and family structures.

"This message goes right over the heads of most kids,' spokesman Damian Tudehope said.

Family Council of Victoria spokesman Bill Muehlenberg said the centre was trying to push an ideological agenda.

"They are using children as guinea pigs in adult culture wars," he said.

Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby spokesman David Scammel said Marrickville had one of the highest proportion of gay and lesbian households in the country.

'It is important to point out that this is not about sex education, it's about teaching children really basic life skills about acceptance and understanding and valuing diversity,' he said.

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon supported Mr Byrne and was confident other councils would implement the program.

"These programs help create healthy attitudes among pre-schoolers," she said.

Repeated attempts by The Daily Telegraph to contact Mr Byrne yesterday were unsuccessful.

[Link: Original Article]

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