The NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) has come out in support of the Gayby Baby documentary, saying it was the responsibility of schools “to provide students with an understanding of diversity, inclusion and respect”.
NSWTF president, Maurie Mulheron, said recent media had sought to “intimidate” schools into not showing the documentary, which he said gave “a human face to a non-traditional family setting”.
Mulheron’s comments follow yesterday’s decision by NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, to ban the documentary being shown during school hours in the state’s public schools.
"The Federation is disappointed that the Murdoch press is attempting to intimidate schools into not showing the film, Gayby Baby,” Mulheron said in a statement.
“This award winning documentary shares the stories of children being raised in same-sex families as they each wrestle with the challenges of oncoming adolescence, and gives a human face to a non-traditional family setting."
The plan to show the video to students prompted outrage by some parents and conservative groups who said the screening of the film was not appropriate during school hours.
An article about the film published by The Daily Telegraph stirred up further controversy, prompting the state government to act.
In a statement yesterday, Piccoli confirmed he had intervened.
"I have directed the Department of Education to ensure the film is not shown during school hours," Piccoli said.
NSW Premier, Mike Baird, said he supported schools screening the film, but not during class.
"I understand the intent of that is to provide an example of tolerance and that's something I absolutely support," Baird said.
"Should it be in class time? No, I don't think so. Should it be optional? Yes, I do think so."
However, Mulheron said it was the responsibility of schools to help students understand their world, adding part of that was providing students with an understanding of diversity, inclusion and respect.
"Many young people of diverse sex, sexuality and genders still face discrimination or bullying and may not be accepted by friends or family simply for being who they are,” Mulheron said.
“As young people come to terms with their identity, students may need support to face these challenges.”
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, also condemned Piccoli’s decision, labelling the apparent controversy over the film “cruel rubbish”.
Andrews said he had taken his family to see Gayby Baby, an Australian documentary highlighting the unique and the ordinary challenges faced by four children with same-sex parents.
“Apparently the NSW government thinks it’s all too confusing and distressing a subject for high school students,” the Premier said on his Facebook page.
“I’m getting really sick of this stuff.”