The National Library Board took two children’s books considered to be LGBT friendly off its shelves today.
They are Tango Makes Three and White Swan Express.
This comes after a complaint by Teo Kai Loon, a member of a Facebook group called We Are Against Pink Dot Singapore last week.
The group has 3,356 members.
The NLB’s Assistant Chief Executive, Tay Ai Cheng, said in an email to Teo: “I would like to assure you that NLB takes a strong pro-family stand in selecting books for children.”
Tay added that NLB is cautious in choosing children’s books: “Besides going through the content, we also refer to sypnoses, reviews and other books written by the author.”
Tango Makes Three is a children’s book written by Richard Parnell and Justin Richardson about two male penguins living in a zoo. One day, the zoologist gives the pair a penguin egg to care for. The two male penguins raise their adopted female penguin, who becomes the first penguin to be raised by two males.
The New York Public Library said in 2013: “Tango challenged some Americans’ ideas and assumptions about homosexuality, age-appropriateness of the material, and raised the thorny question about what makes a family.”
White Swan Express by Jean Davies Okimoto and Elaine Oak chronicles the journey of four families. One family has two mothers and another has a single mum.
Both books do not depict the traditional family household, and this was the concern raised by Teo.
Tay, who is also the Chief Librarian of the Public Library Service Group, said in her letter the library will review and remove books that have content that is in conflict with NLB’s pro-family stand.
But Tay said the library collection has over five million books and it would not be easy to sieve through every book to make sure that they adhere to NLB’s policy.
At Bishan National Library, some 5 out of 10 said they are indifferent to having such books in the libraries.
“I don’t want to discriminate. I’ve not seen these books before. I don’t think there is a lot of them,” said David, 20, a university student.
On the other hand, another five out 10 visitors polled for their views said they prefer the books removed.
“Because of my values that are more pro-family, I’ll question why they are there,” said Lee, 42, who works near Bishan.