In spite of protests and petitions from over four thousand concerned patrons, the Singapore National Library Board is moving ahead on plans to pulp three picture-books that depict non-traditional families–all at the urging of a single bigot.
The National Library Board’s official statement says that the three books in question were not “age appropriate,” stating “NLB’s understanding of family is consistent with that of the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education” in Singapore, where gay sex is illegal. The “age inappropriate” picture books in question are And Tango Makes Three, the true story of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that are given “an egg in need of nurturing,” The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, “objectionable” for its portrayal of gay adoptive parents, and Who’s in my family?, in which different families come together for a day at the zoo.
According to Boing Boing, the books’ destruction appears to be largely the work of Teo Kai Loon, an “activist” involved in “We Are Against Pinkdot In Singapore,” a Facebook group that protests the LGBT community. On July 8th, Loon posted a since-deleted comment on Facebook in which he quoted chief librarian of the NLB Ai Cheng as saying the library takes “strong pro-family stand in selecting books for children,” and “when library visitors like yourself [Teo] highlight to us any conflicting content within books, we review such books thoroughly and withdraw them from circulation.”
In the post, Loon then called for other members of the hate group to “continue to scrutinise the catalogue and not allow such children books to go under the radar screen,” saying the NLB acts on complaints “within two days.” If Loon is as responsible as he claims for the books’ destruction, then his call for others to join the homophobic crusade is a scary indication of what the near future of the NLB might look like–and while I’m tempted to react to Loon’s victory with gratitude that I live in a country where the “understanding of family” is generally more inclusive, And Tango Makes Three is also on the American Library Association’s list of most-protested books.
If anyone has a Night Vale librarian available to sic on Loon and anyone else that spends their days censoring the children’s section of their local library, now’s as good a time as any.
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