Home' LOTL : August 2004 Contents best interests. As her parents, we desperately want her to feel
included as a significant and legitimate part of the world. We
also want to help other kids with lesbian and gay parents and
those from heterosexual families who can all benefit from
learning to accept and celebrate diversity.
When I was Brenna's age I craved images and stories
about difference. Anything different to the white Aussie,
blonde, blue eyed, tall, athletic girl who I clearly was not. My
parents immigrated from post war Europe to Australia with
very little English and heavy accents. I was a 'woggy' looking
child with a Jewish nose and, 30 years ago, this attracted
teasing and bullying. Perhaps today Australian society has
moved on (to other targets).
Our family chose to be visible as a different type of family.
Although we consulted with Brenna, we -- the parents -- made
this decision. I asked Brenna how the kids at school reacted to
her being on TV. "Lots of kids told me they saw me on TV...
I liked it ... me and my friend Meryn are a bit more happier
now 'coz we're famous."
Brenna seems quite satisfied with the whole experience.
But how did other children in lesbian families respond to the
Sam (12 years) and Eliza (10 and a half) live with their
two mums and they also have a Dad. They don't understand
what all the fuss is about. "Little kids don't even pick up that
there's two women ... they just see two kids playing at a fun
park," said Eliza. "I think it's good that all the kids that heard
about it, the kids that do have a family like that, see that sort
of family on TV ... they think, 'Oh, that's the background I
Thonya, 4, is an avid Playschool watcher. She had not yet
seen the segment so I played it for her. "Brenna" she said.
"Merry-go-round" she added. Did she notice the two mums?
Possibly. But clearly, her focus was on the children and the rides.
Maddy, 9 years old, saw the segment when it first screened
in March and loved it. Recently, when she saw Brenna on TV
again but this time on the news, she became immediately
distressed. "This is so mean. There's nothing wrong with our
family. I don't complain every time they show a mummy and
a daddy ..." Maddy just couldn't get over how unfair it was.
"What's so wrong about having two mums? ... Poor Brenna,
if I feel this sad, she must be feeling worse ... she's done
The Playschool segment featuring Brenna and her mums at
Wonderland entertained children -- "why can't we go to that
park mum?" they asked. Kids were offered a slightly different
image of a family group to add to their existing stock of
images (overwhelmingly of mum, dad and kids). Where is the
harm? The real harm has been felt by children of lesbian and
gay parents who are now asking why Brenna was on the news
-- "what's wrong with two mums?"
PICTURED LEFT TO RIGHT: JORDAN, BRENNA AND RORY. PHOTO TOM FAIRWEATHER
One mum told me that she protected her 51/2-year-old son
from the Playschool issue because she doesn't want him to
know that anyone might have a problem with a kid having two
mums. "No doubt he will hear some derogatory comments
one day and we will have to visit the subject of homophobia as
we do already with racism and sexism, but until that day I'd
rather he grow up feeling the world is ok with us".
I feel sad and angry at our politicians. Children respect
our political leaders and when they say it was wrong to show
a family with two mums on Playschool, what kind of message
does that convey to our children? Tony Abbott, Federal
Health Minister, thinks it is critical for children to have a
parent of each gender because "this is the way it has always
been ... it's part of the natural order of life." I am astounded
at the simplicity of this argument. Just whose interests is
Abbott primarily concerned about?
John Howard, Tony Abbott and other conser vatives
accused us of pushing a radical agenda and forcing toddlers to
come to terms with lesbianism as a legitimate lifestyle. The
children I spoke to disagree. "She (Brenna) just said 'my
mums'. She didn't say 'my mums who are lesbians and are in
love with each other'." giggles Eliza.
Howard has moved on a bit -- at present he seems more
concerned with functioning flagpoles and patriotic singing at
school -- so I guess it's okay to push a conser vative,
nationalistic agenda, is it?
I asked the children what message they would like to give to
the Prime Minister. Sam's message was simple: "Resign." Eliza
felt that the PM should consider different types of relationships.
"The Prime Minister is just one type ... he should recognise
other types of relationships as well." Ingrid, 6, wants to tell the
PM that it's wrong to not allow lesbians on TV. "Like on Strictly
Dancing when those two men were dancing in those great
funny pants because it shows that lesbians and gays are good too,
like mums and dads -- lesbians and gays are different -- lesbians
are two mums, gays are two dads."
And Brenna's message to the PM? "It's not that big an
issue. It's normal. Why did it have to become a big issue? John
Howard doesn't like two mums ... what's wrong with my
family John Howard?"
Listen to the children. They will tell us if something
I ASKED THE CHILDREN WHAT MESSAGE THEY WOULD
LIKE TO GIVE TO THE PRIME MINISTER. SAM'S
MESSAGE WAS SIMPLE: "RESIGN."
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