A story appeared in the Daily Mail with the rather alarming heading:
Now Brussels takes aim at the Famous Five! Books portraying ‘traditional’ families could be barred.
And began with a flourish of doom:
Books which portray ‘traditional’ images of mothers caring for their children or fathers going out to work could be barred from schools under proposals from Brussels.
An EU report claims that ‘gender stereotyping’ in schools influences the perception of the way boys and girls should behave and damages women’s career opportunities in the future.
Critics said the proposals for ‘study materials’ to be amended so that men and women are no longer depicted in their traditional roles would mean the withdrawal of children’s classics, such as Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, Paddington Bear or Peter Pan.
This was dutifully replicated on a couple of Christian websites.
The irony is that not only is this all bunkum, but actually states as much in the conclusion of the article:
A spokesman for the London office of the European Commission said: ‘This is nonsense. “Brussels” has no legal powers to intervene in which books are available in UK schools, it is a matter for the UK and for schools.
‘The European Parliament committee report – which anyway represents just the committee’s view – does not suggest banning books.
‘And even in areas where it does call for EU level action and where that is legally possible, that can only be done if the Commission makes a proposal – it hasn’t – and if the European Parliament as a whole and a large majority of member states then adopt it.’
Anyway, Mary Honeyball MEP, decided to take the Daily Mail to task with a letter they decided not to publish:
The article by James Chapman (Mail 7/11/2012) claiming that the EU could be planning to ban books portraying stereo typical family values is misleading in the extreme. It was incorrect to suggest that such books could be barred from schools.
Brussels does not have legal powers to intervene in which books are available in UK schools; it is a matter for the UK government.
The European Parliament committee report to which your article refers does not suggest banning books- and in any case this is certainly not something which would be legally binding.
Even in areas where the report does call for EU level action and where such action would be legislatively possible, it could only be done if the European Commission makes a formal proposal. In addition, the European Parliament as a whole and also a large majority of Member States must then adopt it.
I hope this important point clarifies the inaccuracies I refer to in your report.
Mary Honeyball MEP
It’s worth hopping over to see the pathetic response to this letter, and the equally pathetic justification for not publishing.
Sleep easy tonight folks, Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina and Timothy, are safe in our schools……