School’s bid to ban Mother’s Day ‘blocked’
Rebecca Urban, The Australian, 9 May 2017
A Melbourne primary school that scrapped its Mother’s Day stall in the name of “diversity” and “inclusivity” is understood to have reversed the decision after a phone call from a concerned parent — Bill Shorten.
Moonee Ponds West Primary School was facing a backlash from parents shocked to read in this week’s newsletter that the stall — where children can spend their pocket money on small, token gifts for their mother or another “significant loved one” — would not be going ahead.
Instead, principal Jeff Lyon revealed, the school would celebrate UN International Day of Families. “I believe celebrating International Day of Families is a more inclusive way of celebrating the richness, diversity and complexity of living and loving as a family in the modern world,” Mr Lyon wrote. “The day highlights the importance of all caregivers in families, be it parents, grandparents or siblings and the importance of parental education for the welfare of children.”
The Opposition Leader, whose daughter goes to Moonee Ponds West, rang the school late yesterday. He said the decision had been reversed.
Asked to comment on the decision by the school, which is in Mr Shorten’s electorate, he described it as a “wonderful’’ institution. “I’ve spoken to the principal this evening and I understand there will be a Mother’s Day stall,” he said.
Samantha Hanna, who went to the school as a child and sends her children Isabela, Dante and Didier there, said parents had been surprised by the move.
“I remember as a kid lining up and agonising over whether to get mum the soap on the rope or the scented candle, and now I love getting these little gifts … from my own kids,” Ms Hanna said.
“I know that there are some single parent families at the school, and for those mums this is probably the only gift they will get from their children. I understand that some don’t have mums around but it is a good time to think about the importance of mums and dads and the role they play in our lives. I’m glad to hear it’s been reinstated.”
While some parents were dismayed about the initial decision, other politicians weighed in with concerns about the advent of political correctness in the school playground.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino distanced himself from the move. “While these are local decisions, I would have thought Mother’s Day was a great opportunity to celebrate not just mums but other carers and family members,” he said. “I know I will be spoiling my mother this Mother’s Day.”
Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling pointed the finger at the Andrews government for forcing “political correctness” on schools. “Mother’s Day is about celebrating the maternal figures in our lives, whether it is mum, grandma, an aunt or a female mentor, and honouring their contribution as women in society,” he said. “If it’s not banning the signing of traditional Christmas carols or reading classical fairy tales, (Premier) Daniel Andrews’ attack on our cultural traditions continues.”
Mr Lyon was not available for comment last night.