Single parent’s open letter to Yaacob Ibrahim

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In a Facebook post, Jaxe Pan commented on NLB’s decision to pulp three children’s books which have LGBT-friendly stories.

The single mum wrote on Friday: “It’s okay that you [Minister Yaacob Ibrahim] are not like us… but please do not remove our stories, and pretend we do not exist.

“I fear that we are creating an artificial reality for our young children…. And regard my daughter as alien.”

Earlier on, the minister said that NLB’s decision was guided by community norms. “The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about.”

But Pan disagreed, “As a mother, I can teach my daughter to be brave and optimistic if ever being ridiculed about our family situation. As a mother, I can order any of these books online for her. But as a mother, I am powerless, alone, to change the society she would find herself in.”

She said she fears that Singapore will become a society where children of non-traditional family will be bullied and discriminated against.

And Pan is not alone. Other single parents have taken to social media to defend their non-traditional household.

A 36-year-old single mother, Inmae Tham said: “I am bisexual. My boyfriend is straight. We are not married. We have a son. BUT this is my family… This perceived ‘ deviant’ family structure of mine is full of love, lots of love.”

There was also a light-hearted dig from a single mother of two gay sons, Khoo Hoon Eng.The Associate Professor of biochemistry at the National University of Singapore suggested:

“Perhaps there could be a dance routine [for NDP celebration] depicting the pulping of books… [For those] who are dedicated to protecting young Singaporeans from the corrupting influence of challenging ideas.

“Maybe, to be even purer and to preserve societal norms, we could have only white fireworks.”

The Rainbow Parents SG – a group made up of LBGT parents – also asked NLB to consider donating the books, instead of destroying them.

On the book banning, Mr Yaacob noted, “People can buy these titles for their children if they wish. Rather, the NLB has to decide what books should be made readily available to children, who are sometimes unsupervised, in the children’s section of our public libraries.”

Yet his statement will not signify the end of the saga.

More than 300 individuals have signed up on Facebook to gather at the atrium of the Central Public Library today. The organisers said copies of And Tango Makes Three and White Swan Express would be distributed.

On the other hand, an opposing camp has set up a petition that has since gained 30,000 signatories.

Singaporeans United for Family said they support NLB’s decision, in the name of ‘pro-family’ values.

The group said, “[The library] should not be a place where all kinds of sub-cultural beliefs or behaviours are promoted at the expense of children…”