Join this if you do NOT think the NLB should have pulled the two children books that were not "pro-family" off its shelves!
The aim is to put forth to the NLB that like conservatives, non-conservatives too believe that the public library plays an important role in curating a good selection of books for its readers.
Our national library serves everyone in Singapore. We are a diverse population of varied beliefs, hopes and dreams, and that demands that our library represents a diverse range of literature too.
On 8 July 2014, the National Library Borad (NLB) responded to an email complaint by a concerned member of the public, Teo Kai Loon. A member of the anti-LGBTI Facebook group - We are Against Pinkdot in Singapore, Teo Kai Loon had found two children's books And Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express to contain homosexual content that he felt would be a corrupting influence on the young in Singapore as it did not contain "pro-family" values.
The NLB withdrew these books from circulation upon receiving his feedback.
Following the NLB's decision, other members of the public (who are not a part of the We are Against Pinkdot in Singapore group) have also started offering their opinions on NLB's decision. Some of these include:
(A) Books should not be censored. Represent culturally diverse beliefs, hopes, dreams and lives.
"Books should never be censored; the books in our libraries represent the diversity of the thoughts, hopes, dreams, and stories of different people, whether or not we agree with them. It should never be about forcing your views or beliefs onto other people; I believe that people should be allowed freedom to access any books or information that they want, and then from there, they should be allowed to have the freedom to make their own opinions about it.
Only the people whose arguments do not hold water, and who are afraid of people understanding the truth will want to remove or restrict people's access to books and literature in the first place!"
(B) Censorship is inconsiderate and exculsionary to members who are a part of our community. At odds with the purpose of a National Library.
"A library is a community's repository of literature, culture and knowledge. It is a place that anyone should be able to acess, to read and to learn [...] People like Teo are of course free to object to the books, and to prevent their young children from reading or borrowing them. But for the books to be withdrawn from a library that is meant to cater to all Singaporeans is to ignore the fact that not all Singaporeans are like Teo. And even more painful: it ignores the fact that not all children are born into or live in the "desired" family groups"
(C) Children can form their own views. Should be exposed to a range of views.
"I don't think there is societal consensus on this. Im a parent and I've no problem about divorce and LGBT themed books for young kids. As they grow older, all themes are ok, Obviously different parents would have different values and make different choices. And children will form their own views and make their own choices as they grow older. Why should religious conservatives and the NLB decide for everyone?"
[- Perry Tan]
(D) Know it to address it. No point pretending homosexuality does not exisit.
"It doesn't help to shelter the young from works of realities. Not in anyway would issues such as LGBT, crime and family problems, take a change through isolation. In fact, there is a greater need for the youg to be educated about these issues simply because it is highly evident in our societies."
[- Clement Chok]
(E) Books do not attack "Pro-Family" Values. Happy families come in different forms. Time to widen & update notion of "pro-family" to be more inclusive.
"Tango Makes Three" [...] is about two male penguins who hatched an egg that a male-female penguin couple were very happy to let them. I guess you could read it to suggest that a gay couple could adopt and raise a healthy child without hurting anyone. But the authors didn't just pull this story out of their asses. It did happen, in the New York Central Park Zoo in 1999."
"White Swan Express" is pretty much about international adoption. It does feature two married heterosexual couple, one lesbian couple, and a single mother. Last I checked, this reflects reality pretty well - many gay and lesbian couples have raised healthy, happy children, as have single parents. Neither "Tango Makes Three" nor "White Swan Express" are anything short of responsible and educational"
"The fact that "Tango Makes Three", "White Swan Express", and related titles, have been in circulation for so long, is evidence that there are many parents who would like their children to know about the existence of a diversity of families. "
I have compiled these publically written voices with the intent of persuading NLB to reconsider their hard-nosed stance. We have always known that books and works of literature are powerful forces - they can bring people together and tear them apart.
Access to a diverse range of literature can offer one a priceless experience -- there is no greater delight than finding a book that relates to us when no one else can, and no greater joy than a book that teaches us to understand someone else so different from ourselves.
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