Family

Should children be taught about homosexuality in school?

The suggestion to get a book depicting gay characters into Kiwi classrooms has been met with mixed reactions.

By Ellie Hooper

Wellington authors Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris have written Promised Land – a traditional fairytale with a slight twist.

That’s because their story, despite following many genre norms, contains two main characters that are gay.

The writers, who are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to make their book a reality, say they’ve created the story they wanted to read while growing up.

“We felt a story like this where the sexuality of the characters is not the focus can help contribute to early acceptance from young people ahead of the time when they may encounter LGBTI classmates or people later on their lives,” said Adam.

“The book can provide a safe environment where a child and their parent(s) can discuss and explain all forms of love. “

Should stories with gay characters be introduced to Kiwi schools?
Should stories with gay characters be introduced to Kiwi schools?

Similarly co-writer Chaz Harris said the lack of available stories on the topic makes things harder for kids and parents alike.

“So much of what we see through the media and our parents when we are children form our opinions and attitudes towards others and, more importantly, our attitudes towards ourselves.

“There are so few stories available for parents to safely and easily discuss with their kids that the world is full of all kinds of relationships and to encourage the acceptance of that.”

Openly saying they’d be happy for their book to be introduced to Kiwi classrooms; this idea was tested by One News on their Facebook page – to mixed reviews.

The top rated comment was from Georgina O’Connor, who wrote: “I would be happy to read my daughter books about gay people, straight people, any people as long as the story is good. Love is universal.”

But that sentiment was not upheld by all, with Ray Price writing this kind of story has no place in the Kiwi classroom.

One News asked the question on their Facebook page
One News asked the question on their Facebook page

“I think the point is, there is nothing wrong with this book being written BUT it doesn't need to be taught in schools. Schools are NOT the place for this lesson to be taught. Schools are for reading, writing and arithmetic. Lesson of acceptance and respect should be taught at home and practiced in public.”

One user went even further, writing: “No frigging way!!! Russia banned gay books from schools and NZ should follow suit. If gays want to open their own private schools and peddle this stuff then go for it but the majority of kiwis would not want this in their schools.”

Of the backlash, co-creator Adam Reynolds said it was “disheartening.”

“But to us it only proves the need for more books like Promised Land. We believe the story we are telling is hugely important for the next generation and beyond. If there were more stories like this which treated LGBTI people as a normal part of society then we could help combat bullying and foster acceptance between youth.”

If you want to help Adam and Chaz’s book become a reality, check out their Kickstarter campaign here – which ends in 9 days.

Would you like to see stories like this introduced to New Zealand classrooms? Let us know via Facebook.