And Tango Makes Three - Banned in Singapore Library

I first heard of the book “And Tango Makes Three” in 2010 when I was in Boston for a summer immersion program, while pursing my Early Childhood Degree. One of our lecturers, Ellie Friedland, invited our class to sit in with her other students in another module she was teaching on diversity in today’s families. For that session, she had specially invited three transgendered youths ranging from 18 to 30 years old. A group of my classmates from Singapore sat in. We had a very warm and open discussion about sexuality and sexual orientation and flooded the panel of guests with our questions.

“How did your parents take it when you told them you wanted a sex change?”

“Did you face any discrimination?”

“Are you in a relationship now?”

“Does your current partner know about your sex change?”

The three guests answered all our questions with grace, honesty and patience.

I left the dialogue with opened eyes, and an even more open heart.

Through the conversations, I have learnt so much more about the LGBT community; their stigma, challenges, pain, hopes and dreams.

As early childhood educators-to-be, Ellie introduced some resources and text to us that we could introduce to parents and children. “And Tango Makes Three” was one of the books she mentioned. Based on true story about two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo trying to hatch an egg, the book’s endearing tale caught my attention.

What is your definition of ‘pro-family’?

what is pro-family

National Library Board recently pulped three children’s books after facing several complaints from concerned parents that the books were not ‘pro-family’. “And Tango Makes Three” was one of the books that was banned. This got me questioning.

What exactly is the definition of family? Or pro-family? What is your definition?

“My definition of pro-family is the notion that we are all FOR family – single parent families, grandparents as parents’ families, LGBT families, families with adoption.” Samantha See, an Early Childhood Educator commented.

“I understand that some people may not agree with what it constitutes but who are we to make decisions for the children of our future? Aren’t we capable enough to lay all the cards on the table and allow our children to choose for themselves? Don’t we want the leaders of our future to be able to make their own decisions based on what they know and what they believe it? And to ban it from the library – a place where we encourage children to go to find out more about the world that they live in – what does that say to the rest of the community?” Samantha asked.

Thoughts and comments

Daddy M, who blogs at The Wacky Duo adds, “I feel that the parties involved have done things in accordance to their own beliefs. The conservative who raised the issue with NLB did it for their values, NLB did it in due to ‘public ‘ demands, and the opposing voices raised the issue because of their belief. In a multi-cultural society with ever evolving change in values and principles as we evolved, there will always be extreme polarizing views. Not one action can appease everyone.

Trust the parents to do the right thing including educating the child. Do not sweep things under the blanket.

In today’s connected world, information is but a click away. You can run and hide, but you will eventually face up to the realities of life. It is better for one to be educated and understand the differences rather than ignore and suppress the realities of life. A child cannot be sheltered for all their lives. As parents, we cannot hold their hands forever, neither do we appreciate a stranger holding our child’s hand without permission, however noble the intention.

And finally, respect the written words. As a depository of books, the library should not pulp the books. To ban it to protect the younger ones is one thing, to pulp the books is akin to a witch hunt, where innocents perish with the guilty. In this case, the books are the ‘victims’ of a summary judgment that may not be always right.” said the father of two boys.

Fiona Walker, Principal of Schools and CEO of Julia Gabriel Education said, “I think it is a shame that the NLB has made this decision to remove children’s books which touch on the topic of same sex families. The reality is there are many different types of families out there. Our children will come across many different family structures in their lives. There are many books which address that in a very age appropriate and sensitive manner, as do these books. I feel any family which showers it’s young with love and provides a stable and nurturing environment for the child to grow up in should be at least tolerated and at best supported by society. I also feel a library should be a place where multiple opinions should be available. Any family will have it’s own value system and that should not encroach on anyone else’s choices. The decision of whether a family chooses to read such books is their own choice.”

its okay by fiona rossRecommended read: It’s Okay by Fiona Ross

A little bird Jay whose Daddy lives far away. Jay lives in a big tree with his Mommy along with a neighbourhood of diverse families. There’s a single mother; a single father; a granny guardian; same sex parents; foster parents; adoptive parents, and a widower. All of the families together in the tree create a beautiful Community. A progressive children’s picture book about the modern family model, this book encompasses diversity, acceptance and love.

Perhaps One Day…

It does not matter which stand I take. It does not matter if you are for or against the ban.

But maybe, just maybe. Let us look beyond the books and stories. Let us look beyond our ‘idea of family’.

From a fellow human being to another, can we embrace those who are different?

Can we whole-heartedly accept our children if they turn out different from how we want them to be?

I’m still hopeful of the day in Singapore where families with two dads or two moms can openly send their kids to school, hand-in-hand; without having to hide in the closet, and lead an honest and happy life.

Because everyone has the – freedom – to love.

This video sums it up pretty nicely.

A Family Is A Family Is A Family… What is your family like?

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