It recently came to my attention that a children’s picture book, King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, had a warning label on the front stating “Readers should be aware that this book is concerned with same sex relationships”. This was entirely inappropriate, so I got on Twitter and made a bit of a fuss.
While the content of King and King, and it’s sequel King and King and Family is considered controversial due to an image of two men kissing, it is a significant piece of children’s literature. While little fuss has been made about the original book, Koning en Koning (its original is in Dutch), the English version has often been challenged, particular in the US.
The State Library of WA was made aware of the label, and a response was given on Flickr at the time. In addition, letters were sent to the Margaret Allen (CEO of SLWA), Ruth Faulkner Library in Belmont (where the book was held), the Hon. John Day (Minister for Planning: Culture and Arts), and Stuart Cole, (CEO of the City of Belmont). You can download a copy of th letter sent in PDF format here:
Of the four letters sent, two responses were received. One from SLWA, the other from the Hon. John Day. Both letters can be read in this PDF file:
It should be noted that when Ms Allen from SLWA cited their anti-discrimination policy, sexuality was listed as ‘lifestyle choice’. For those who are unaware, your sexuality is NOT a choice (after all, with all the s**t society puts us through, who would choose to be gay?). Also, being gay is not a ‘lifestyle’, it is who your are. Just like being heterosexual is not a lifestyle.
In addition, Perth’s local gay rag, Out in Perth ran this article by Benn Dorrington on page 5 of their August issue.
So yeah. The label has been removed, and other copies in the SLWA system have been checked. It could have been a staff member (possibly a library assistant who has not partaken in formal TAFE or uni training), or even a member of the public. We may never know. At any rate, the label is gone. Thank goodness for that.