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A mama’s take on NLB’s ban: Many of you would have read about NLB’s recent move to ban two books ((1) And Tango Makes Three, (2) The White Swan Express) off its shelves, following a complaint from a member of the public that these two books are not pro-family. I didn’t really want to make an overt statement or stand about it initially, because given my opinionated self, I knew I wouldn’t have been satisfied with a touch-and-go viewpoint on this topic.
However, an early childhood teacher who attempted to rally other early childhood educators to his cause to show appreciation to NLB for banning these two books got mefire going. It was not so much what he said (everyone is entitled to their opinions, as am I) but how he said it – He delivered his little speech in an overly confident tone that they’d agree with him that the two books SHOULD be banned because they PROMOTE an alternative lifestyle and are therefore, not pro-family, got meblood riled up (yesyes, I am a hot-blooded Aries and it’s easy to get me riled up. Whatever). That smacks of smarminess, and got me angry at his superior, all-knowing attitude and opinion. Of course, I responded to him a couple of times, and I am also happy to report that the many comments surrounding that post defended the two books. I am glad and happy that my Ray will be taught by these bunch of teachers (hopefully, fingers cross) who defended the values of love, acceptance, family ties and bonding, as are promoted by the two books.
I also went to read up the content of the two stories and found myself touched at the content of “And Tango Makes Three”. This book is based on a real life story of penguins in a NY zoo, where two male penguins had formed a couple, and were trying to hatch a rock. When they were given an egg to hatch (from another male-female penguin couple that could not care for two eggs), the two penguins, Roy and Silo, took turns to hatch the egg which eventually saw a female baby penguin emerge, named Tango. Though the two ‘leads’ are male, the book’s focus is on love, especially that of parental love. One of the book’s co-author has said, “We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks”. That’s exactly it, because the book talks about love, parental love, family love and caring for an unborn baby and nurturing it. All I read in the book is LOVE LOVE LOVE and FAMILY FAMILY FAMILY. Sure, the leads are males, but did the book promote the two male penguins as having a better way of bringing up baby Tango than other male-female penguins because they are male? No!
May I also draw your attention to the picture below, another real life story about #gaypenguins who brought up a baby penguin, who would otherwise have been crushed, and an innocent life snuffed. This is love, this is pro-life, and this is family!
Anyway, I digress. The content of these two stories are not wild, they just approach the idea of family and love from an angle that conservatives are neither familiar nor comfortable with. There are several issues that I would like to address with NLB’s ban.
1) NLB is assuming the role of parents in censoring materials for children to read. Are these self-appointed vigilantes too lazy to censor their kids from reading what they consider ‘inappropriate books”. Aiya lazy say lazy lah! I would totally understand if you’re lazy ok!
2) NLB is acting against its mission of promoting literacy by adopting a blanket ban on these two books. These two books, as I’ve mentioned above, discuss love and family from a different angle. Different angles in fact. They widen the perspective on love and family, which promotes critical thinking. I FEAR for Ray’s generation if narrow-mindedness stifle the development of intellect through sharing and discourse of different views and realities
3) NLB’s ban and subsequent defence of its action displays a very narrow definition of family. Again, this is against promoting learning, one of NLB’s mission. Are gays not part of a family, not someone’s child, brother, friend? By banning the book, NLB was being silly and bowing to pressure from a small group of Singaporeans’ personal belief and value system. By stubbornly defending their action, NLB is stamping approval and endorsing that narrowly defined view of what family is
4) Banning the book only serves to hide the reality of things, that the gay movement is now stronger than ever. It’s not really that gays are flourishing everywhere, it’s more that the LGBT community, once marginalized and “shamed” by societal norms into hiding, have finally grown more comfortable walking around in their own skins while also assuming the identities of sibling, son, daughter, friend.
5) From a solely marketing/branding POV, this ban is a total mistake on NLB’s part, which is just drawing and highlighting all the wrong attention to the library. #megafail much?
While Singapore still takes a conservative stand towards endorsing the LGBT community, PM Lee has also said that Section 377A will not be “proactively enforced”, which is good enough for me as I see it as a quiet acceptance of the LGBT community (maybe not to LGBT but aiya, Boh hee hae ah ho (No fish prawn also good lah). It’s as good as it gets without being too radical. In view of this, why is NLB taking a proactive stand to wipe these two books from its library list? Why is NLB sheltering children from seeing what is happening in the real world?
Let me make an analogy. This action of keeping kids from reading about LGBT and them being real people seeking real love and families is akin to us telling our hormonally-charged teenagers that the only way to approach marriage sensibly is to abstain from pre-marital sex, to save ourselves for that special moment. It’s akin to us telling ourselves that engaging in sex education of any kind will only draw their attention to pre-marital sex and endorse sexual acts. Erm, it is because of a gross lack of well-rounded sex education and stupid, singular advice like “no sex before marriage” that lead to teenagers thinking stupid things like, “If I engage in withdrawal before orgasm, there is no way I will get pregnant.” “As long as the other party says they’re clean, I will not get STDs” Doh. See the similarity in logic there?
Of course, if you live in your own sheltered world, you won’t see the logic, which I forgive you because it’s not your fault you don’t have critical thinking. It’s the system’s fault and that is why we want books of diversity that have all the right values of love and family to appear in our libraries! If you then disagree with the gay couples, then by all means, teach your child that marriage is between a man and a woman, not gays, You are entitled to your views and opinions. BUT PLEASE DO NOT PROMOTE HATE or DISCRIMINATION against the LGBTs, There is enough shit going on in this world as it is. Xenophobia is another thing that gets my skin all prickly.
Ok, that is enough of me sharing my views. I won’t profess to be a hip mom who has the best moral values and all. I do hope Ray will marry a nice girl (endorsed by me mwahahah. Warning for future ladies, just to let unoe, I’ve got Ray’s first kiss, not you! LOL), not boy, but if he so loves a boy, I rather have my son with me than to lose him because of silly hate and discrimination. And if he loves a nice girl, I wouldn’t want him marginalizing the LGBT community, spreading hate and discrimination because that’s being a shit human being, and not respecting another human being who has done no wrong but to be born with a different sexual inclination. Since when was being different a crime?
I am glad though, that the furore over this issue has some level-headed Christians and religious people speaking up against the ban. Do share this article among parents (and non-parents). I’d like to do my part in promoting critical thinking since the NLB is cutting themselves some slack. And of course, I just like having my opinions heard when they are raging against my chest, screaming to get out haha. End of rant, thank you very much.
A mama who hopes the world will be more sensible.
P/S: I asked Pips for his view and being the monosyllabic donut that he is, he did however, succinctly say that those pushing for the ban (the overly religious side) and NLB are just being silly monkeys. I do think he is right. Coloured lenses are not what children are born with, it’s what we adults put on for our kids.
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