March 29, 2023

The ABC has been accused of “looking after” children by broadcasting a special episode of Play School in which a drag queen reads a children’s book about a girl who wears pants.

Liberal Senator Alex Antic made the claim Tuesday during Senate Estimates, sparking a furious row with Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

The South Australian politician asked ABC director David Anderson why the well-known drag queen read the book about the children’s program.

‘The program was rated G and was heavily promoted on TV and in the app. Why does the ABC provide children with this kind of adult content?’ he asked.

The ABC has been accused of “looking after” children by broadcasting a program in which the well-known drag queen Courtney Act (pictured) reads a children’s book about a girl who wears pants

ABC director David Anderson dismissed the question’s premise, pointing out that the book was all about dressing up.

“I don’t see that as taking care of kids with our content. That particular program is reading from a book about dressing up,” he said.

Senator Antic interrupted to emphasize his point, and Senator Hanson-Young intervened to object to the language he used.

‘You mean young girls who wear trousers? Seriously,’ she asked. “It’s insulting. It’s deeply, deeply insulting.’

Senator Antic replied, “If it’s offensive, don’t hang around, Sarah… if you don’t want to.”

The argument only got more heated from there.

‘Heavenly above – girls wearing trousers. That’s the level of nonsense you’re bringing up,’ exclaimed Senator Hanson-Young.

Poll

Is it acceptable for a drag queen to read a children’s book at Play School?

Senator Antic replied, “It’s amazing what a reaction elicits. The truth. The truth that the ABC takes care of our children.”

Senator Hanson-Young insisted the suggestion of grooming was offensive and should be called out.

‘Care is really serious business. It’s not to be toyed with by conservative senators to make headlines,” she said.

“Survivors of sexual violence all over this country will be deeply offended, deeply offended by your political game.”

But Senator Antic insisted, “This is what nursing looks like.”

Mr Anderson finally managed to speak up, simply stating that the ABC was not looking after Australian children.

The chairman of the committee managed to bring something that seemed to be in order in the room and the interrogation continued.

‘Cross-clothes. Let me ask you this, does ABC agree that transgender or crossdressing are mature concepts?’ asked Senator Antic.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young found Senator Antic's manner of questioning offensive and intervened and started a furious argument

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young found Senator Antic’s manner of questioning offensive and intervened and started a furious argument

Anderson agreed that some people didn’t identify with the gender they were “born in,” but he didn’t accept that a drag queen reading a book is “adult content.”

“I don’t accept what you say about someone trans-grooming Australian children. That’s not — that whole story wasn’t about that, it was about dressing up,” he said.

“I think kids do dress up, Senator, and a story about dressing up is acceptable.”

Senator Antic then asked whether such programs contributed to Australia’s “gender dysphoria problem.”

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‘Complex issues that exist within Australian society. I don’t think we’re generating anything. At least the ABC reflects what’s happening in the Australian community,” Anderson replied.

Senator Antic then asked a question that Mr. Anderson was unable to answer on the spot.

‘What percentage of Australian children are read to by people who are dressed like this, men who are dressed like that?’ he asked.

Mr. Anderson replied, “I don’t have any public data on that, but what we have is a story about dressing up.”

Another senator noted how long the feud had been going on: “It feels like we’ve been here for decades.”

The Spectacular Suit is a children’s picture book by Kat Patrick in which Frankie, a young girl, tries to decide which dress to wear to her birthday party.

She adjusts all of her dresses, but none of them feel quite right, so she tries on pants and feels comfortable in them.

The lesson of the book is that children should be empowered to dress and express themselves in a way that makes them comfortable.

The program was part of a series of seven-minute Play School spin-offs in which celebrities read children’s books on an orange couch in a colorful room.

“Find your favorite toy and snuggle up on the Story Time sofa while some of Australia’s most well-known celebrities read a series of adventurous children’s picture books,” reads the iView description.

Courtney Act sat next to Humpty-Dumpty as she read her book.

The episode is promoted as, “Dress Up and Look Fabulous! The sensational Courtney Act and dashing Humpty share a story of Kat Patrick and Hayley Wells.

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“Glitter and sequins are all featured in The Spectacular Suit: a story about being yourself.”

Senator Antic moved on to a different question, this time about diversity in the national broadcaster.