THE National Library Board has done the right thing by adopting a “pro-family and cautious approach” in identifying titles for young readers, and removing at least three controversial children’s books that included references to single parents and same-sex couples (“NLB pulls 3 kids’ books off its shelves”; yesterday).

At the heart of the issue lies the question: What is “family”?

Some view “family” as based on a biological connection between a father, a mother and their children; others view it as an emotional union between committed people.

In 2007, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong defined the “family” in Singapore as “one man, one woman marrying, having children and bringing up children within that framework of a stable family unit” (“Why we should leave Section 377A alone: PM”; Oct 24, 2007).

Recent surveys conducted by Our Singapore Conversation and the Institute of Policy Studies show that the majority of Singaporeans continue to hold this view, and for good reason.

Biologically, human reproduction requires the sexual complementarity of a man and a woman. Anthropologically, fathers and mothers are different and complementary. Sociologically, evidence shows that children fare best when raised by their married biological fathers and mothers.

Hence, the first definition of “family” affirms the right of every child to be raised by a father and a mother.

The NLB’s move is consistent with the policy of the Ministry of Education.

In a 2009 statement, the ministry explained that schools do not promote alternative lifestyles to students, and that its framework for sexuality education reflects the “mainstream views and values of Singapore society, where the social norm consists of the married heterosexual family unit” (“Why MOE suspended Aware project”; May 7, 2009).

Children’s books are not the right forum for a discussion on alternative lifestyles.

If activists wish to change the definition of “family”, there are appropriate forums for discourse in a democratic society like Singapore, but the hearts and minds of children are not among them.

Darius Lee

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