A social-minded government primary school teacher has teamed up with an illustrator to produce a picture book to promote equality education in gender and sexual orientation.
The children’s book, whose title translates as ‘A Ken’s Happy Home’, is based on genuine local gay families and is the first of its kind in Taiwan.
‘Love makes a family,’ said author Liu Jia-yu, who has taught in Kaohsiung for 13 years.
‘Children do not hold any prejudice. Proper gender equality education should start with children.’
While different forms of families abound in Taiwan, picture books and other children’s stories still have the middle-class heterosexual family as the gold standard and alienate kids in other families, Liu lamented at the launch last Saturday, reports the China Times.
‘This picture book aims to let children understand how society is really like,’ he explained. ‘Discrimination will dissipate through understanding.’
A Ken is boy who lives in the eastern county of Hualien, where his family runs a grocer’s. A Ken helps deliver goods to his neighbors, but there is a giant house that he has never set foot in, one that his uncle says is occupied by weirdos.
But A Ken does get to know the nine guys living there eventually. Unrelated by blood, these residents include a policeman, a chef, a baseball coach and an octogenarian elder, who live harmoniously together and take care of each other.
Through A Ken’s questions about the gay home, the book touches on issues like same-sex love, older gays, as well as gay marriage and family.
For example, upon knowing how the bearded uncle cannot get married to his lover of 12 years, A Ken asks: ‘Isn’t it strange that people who clearly love each other aren’t protected by the laws?’
Liu said young pupils have responded well to the story on which the picture book is based, finding the ‘happy home’ really cool.
‘I hope this book can act as a primer for more teachers to teach children proper sexual orientation equality and inclusive values,’ he said.