Archive for June, 2004

Hume Moreland Leader – "Gays urged to consider being foster carers" by Isabella Shaw

GAY people can be caring parents and should be encouraged to become foster carers, a Hume agency worker says.

Donna Zander, manager of out-of-home care at Orana Family Services in Meadow Heights, says the recent furore surrounding the ABC’s airing of a Playschool segment depicting two mums taking their daughter to the zoo highlighted public perceptions of parenting.

Ms Zander said Orana and other foster care agencies she knew of had several gay carers on their books.

The services all focused on the child and their needs “regardless of the configuration of the family type”.

“We (Orana) have no hesitation whatsoever towards assessing somebody that is currently in a gay relationship or has been in a gay relationship or is intending to be or is a single gay person it is an irrelevant factor for us,” she said.

“Obviously we would be looking at the match of the child to that relationship or to that person, just as we would around a whole range of other factors.

“They would go through the exact same selection process like anybody else to ensure that the child would be cared for in a safe and appropriate environment.

“When you think about what children actually need boundaries, love, structure, routine, consistency and a safe environment to me the sexuality of the person is irrelevant.”

Ms Zander said same-sex couples had limited options when it came to parenting.

“But foster care is one option and I believe a very good one,” she said.

“Peter”, who did not want his real name used, is a 43-year-old single gay man living in Melbourne’s north.

For the past eight years he has offered respite care to a mildly autistic boy.

Peter, who has a counselling background, is a registered carer for foster care agencies including Orana, Interchange North West, Berry St and Anglicare.

Over the eight years Peter said he would have opened his home to more than 20 children needing short-term care.

He said his sexuality had never been an issue when registering as a carer, a situation he applauded.

“I pour my heart and soul into these kids,” he said. “If you are willing to look after a child, and have got a clean background, it (sexuality) is nobody’s business but your own.” Foster Care Association of Victoria Centre president Janice Hughes said the centre’s board had formally discussed the issue and it was “perfectly happy” with gay foster carers.

“To me it isn’t about individuality as such it doesn’t matter whether someone is grey or black or green or have got spiky hair or rings in their noses or painted fingernails or anything like that,” she said.

For more information on becoming a carer, phone Orana on 9351 1311.

Categories: Foster Care, gay, Lesbian

The Age – "Concern over ‘Gay School" by Anna Krien

A popular children’s show has a story to tell and it’s not making some government ministers gay or happy.

The ABC’s show, Play School, on Monday aired the story of a little girl and her two “mums” to its young viewers .

“I’m Brenna. That’s me in the blue. My mums are taking me and my friend Meryn to an amusement park,” the little girl says over images of her two mums smiling and waving.

Play School’s ‘Through the windows’ segment usually explores families from different ethnic, social and religious backgrounds.

But the broadcaster’s attempt to portray gay relationships – not often in children’s literature and television programming – has sparked a backlash.

Children’s Minister Larry Anthony said he fears the ABC was becoming too politically correct.

“I think it’s important for those program producers to ensure they are not just responding to minorities,” he said.

“I think Play School has been an excellent program but I wouldn’t like to see it become politically correct.”

Communications Minister Daryl Williams also had concerns, asking ABC managing director Russell Balding they be passed on to the board.

“The government understands that parents would expect a program like Play School to deal with issues which are appropriate for the age of its audience,” Mr Williams said.

“In particular, Australian parents should be able to choose when to explain concepts such as same-sex couples to their young children,” he said.

But Tracey Cocks, one of over fifty members in the Lesbian Mothers & their Children Playgroup, praised Play School for its ‘controversial’ move.

“You really feel it when television show families of various ethnicities and localities, but no same-sex parent families,” she said.

Miss Cocks shares the upbringing of her three-year-old daughter with her lesbian partner and two fathersl.

“We haven’t found any discrimination at all, if anything our daughter is someone to be jealous of at kindergarden. Once a child with a single parent complained ‘Why don’t I have a dad when she has two of each?”‘

Bill Muehlenberg from the Australian Family Association said he was outraged that Play School didn’t issue a warning prior to screening the segment.

“The show pushed the message that all relationships are equal. That there is nothing special about the mother and father,” said Mr Muehlenberg, adding that the ABC had no right to push its social agenda on to children.

Other ‘Through the window’ segments have explored a child’s christening, a Muslim family, and a child as bridesmaid at her grandmother’s wedding.

But Mr Muehlenberg said he drew the line at “sexual preferences and alternative lifestyles”.

“I don’t see anything wrong with something as innate as race… Now this is a different kettle of fish,” he said.

Australian Democrats senator Brian Greig said the ABC had a mandate to reflect modern life and culture.

“Gay and lesbian taxpayers, who pay their eight cents a day to the ABC, have a right to have their family structure seen in local content just like everybody else,” he said.

“I would hate to see us turn the clock back to a time where minorities were censored from Australian television as Aborigines and Asians and people with disabilities were once excluded from representation on TV.”

ABC’s Children’s programmer Claire Henderson denied was any emphasis of focus placed on any social issue.

“Any such constructions are adult constructions,” she said.

Back in Fitzroy, Tracey Cocks agreed. “It’s not a big deal for little kids. It’s just the adults who have a problem with us,” she said.

Gay activists lauded the ABC, saying it was Play School’s role to educate children about their world.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome said for an increasing number of Australian children, their world included gay parents or friends with gay parents.

“The ABC has a responsibility to represent Australian society as it is, not as the government might want it to be,” he said in a statement.

“Responsible and effective children’s programming does not wrap children up in cotton wool. It educates and informs children in a way which helps them develop intellectually and emotionally.”

– with AAP

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: Co-Parenting, Lesbian