Still from 'Gayby Baby'
Still from ‘Gayby Baby’

The diverse families toolkit was launched ahead of International Day of Families.

The makers of the documentary Gayby Baby have launched Australia’s first school resource for diverse families.

The Gayby Baby School Action Toolkit, which covers topics such as same-sex parented families, single-parent families and blended families, provides lessons plans for students aged five to ten.

The toolkit is linked to the Health and Physical Education learning area of the Australian Curriculum and was written by a number of education specialists including Janice Atkin, who previously worked as a curriculum consultant with the NSW Department of Education.

The lesson plans are free to download from the Gayby Baby website and schools can purchase a supplementary kit that includes several DVDs and teaching aids.

The film’s director Maya Newell and producer Charlotte Mars were inspired to create the toolkit after hearing stories from children of same-sex couples.

“Many students fall outside the traditional family unit,” said Newell, who grew up with same-sex parents. “Every child has the right to see their family structure reflected in their learning environment.”

The toolkit features excerpts from the film along with lesson plans based on the experiences of the four children who appeared in Gayby Baby – Ebony, Graham, Gus and Matt. The resource also includes statistics and information on non-nuclear families and strategies for school leaders wanting to welcome diverse families into the school environment.

“No teacher is homophobic, but when they don’t have the resources it falls to the child to explain things,” said Newell.

Census data shows that as many as 29 per cent of Australian children are raised in families that fall outside the ‘nuclear’ norm.

Since its launch last Wednesday, the toolkit has been accessed by over 150 schools. Victorian Minister for Equality Martin Foley has committed to adding the resource to the Safe Schools pledge which will be rolled out to all public schools in the state.

Last week, 9000 family diversity posters were sent out to every primary and secondary school in Australia to coincide with the launch of the toolkit.

During the Sydney launch, Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek praised the resource for “putting into words what parents need to hear.”

“Kids are not surprised by family diversity, it’s not kids who are shocked, it’s the parents who want to pretend we don’t have diverse families,” said Plibersek.

She also criticised the proposed plebiscite for marriage equality, which she said would negatively impact same-sex families.

“The thing that worries me most about the plebiscite that’s being proposed is… so many people will hear that there’s something wrong with two mums or two dads, I really don’t want any kid in Australia to hear that.”

Also at the launch were representatives from the Teachers Association, Greens MP Jenny Leong, Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich and documentary star Ebony Baxter-Beale, who spoke about the importance of this resource.

“We’re in a gayby baby boom, but it feels like the rest of the world has closed their eyes to us,” she said. “As a gayby, you grow up having to justify yourself… The [documentary] was such a huge part of my life and gave me a voice.”

The Gayby Baby film was released in 2015 and was temporarily banned from being shown in NSW schools State Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.

If you would like to find out more information about this Toolkit, click here.