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Victorian councils reject reports of libraries censoring books to combat gender bias

Victorian councils have rejected media reports that libraries will remove children’s books from their collections based on research into the development of gender roles in young children, reports SBS.

Melbourne City Council was moved to clarify its position after an article in the Herald Sun suggested it was among a number of local authorities ‘auditing libraries, schools and kindergartens … in a bid to teach kids as young as three to have “gender equitable relationships”’.

‘Our libraries aim to promote diversity, not censor books,’ said a Melbourne City Council spokesperson in response to the article’s claims that books such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Noddy and Winnie the Pooh could be removed from shelves. ‘None of the books mentioned in media reports have been banned. The books mentioned are in stock at City Library.’

The council commissioned the Australian National University (ANU) two years ago to research the development of gender roles, bias and stereotypes in preschool-aged children. Published in March, the report made a number of recommendations—such as suggesting educators avoid defining children according to gender or labelling certain activities for boys and others for girls—but it did not mention banning books.

According to a report by Junkee Media, some councils have said ‘they would not be taking the most extreme approach when interpreting the research’.

A Melbourne City Council spokesperson said the ANU research is informing a ‘pilot project’ at a University of Melbourne children’s centre and will be used to develop new resources to be used by other facilities if they wish.

‘We plan to make the tools and resources available to the community to actively promote the rights of all children to have safe, equal and respectful relationships,’ he said.



Category: Library news