The National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore has banned two gay children’s books because they are not “pro family.” The titles are And Tango Makes Three, a picture book about the true story of two male penguins who hatched an egg together, and The White Swan Express, about a straight and lesbian couple who adopt baby girls from China.
In a Facebook post, NLB justified their decision by writing,“Young children are among our libraries’ most frequent visitors. Many of them browse books in our children’s sections on their own. As such, NLB takes a pro-family and cautious approach in identifying titles for our young visitors. In selecting children’s books, we sieve through the contents and exercise our best judgement. Parents can be assured that NLB is sensitive to their concerns and views, and their feedback.”
Following the ban, there has been backlash from local writers who have withdrawn from upcoming NLB events in protest, as well as a Facebook photo by Jaxe Pan and her daughter that has been shared more than 7,000 times. The photo sees mother and daughter holding a sign that reads, “Dear Minister, single families are REAL, so are adopted families, blended families, gay men and lesbian women. It’s okay that you are not like us, but please do not remove our stories, and pretend we do not exist.”
NLB chief executive Elaine Ng told The Sunday Times that despite the public outcry, the library will not go back on its decision.
“I understand that this is an issue that people feel strongly about but please, please also look to all the good things NLB has done over the years,” Ng said. “NLB has done a lot over many years to build trust in the community and we want to continue working hard to build that trust and see what we can do to reclaim the trust of those who feel disappointed in us.”