Gayby Baby action kit

Mel Smith

The Gayby Baby School Action Toolkit was launched on May 15, marking the International Day of Families.

The Gayby Baby film follows the stories of Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham, four children navigating the usual challenges of growing up within loving homes and with caring parents who all happen to be gay or lesbian.

“It’s 2016, and something like 30 per cent of children are not raised by biological [or] heterosexual parents, so we’re not just talking about children in same-sex families, but also divorced families and kinship families and so on. Not only will this be the first resource to represent same-sex families, it will also be something that can really dive deep into family diversity as a topic,” Maya Newell, director of the film, Gayby Baby, says.

The toolkit is a practical resource for teachers and schools to explore the diversity of the modern family unit. It includes strategies to support students of diverse family settings, helping to make schools a more welcoming and inclusive place.

The learning activates in the toolkit are linked to the Australian Health and Physical Education PDHPE Curriculum, and the NSW PDHPE syllabus, providing clear links between the film, the learning activities and the curriculum. The activities can also be linked to other key learning areas including English and HSIE, where the teacher’s professional judgement and knowledge can be applied to link to student’s learning experiences to the syllabus.

When Gayby Baby was launched last August, there was some controversy about the screening of the film in NSW schools. “Since that time,” the film’s producer, Charlotte Mars, said at the resource launch, “we are happy to report that the NSW Department of Education has confirmed there is no “ban” or limitation on the use or screening of Gayby Baby in schools as a teaching resource.”

The Sydney launch, at Teachers Federation House, was attended by a cross-section of NSW politicians who showed their support for the film and resource during their speeches.

Educators Peter Henson, President of the PDHPE Teachers Association, and Sydney principal Anthea Donaldson also welcomed the resource, speaking to the valuable support it will provide for schools to have conversations about non-traditional family structures. Ebony from the Gayby Baby team also spoke, saying, “This school action kit is about showing that all families are equal.”