Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
So opens a Jackanory-style film uploaded to social media this week by one Birmingham mother, featuring her reading aloud from a picture book called Mommy, Mama and Me. It’s a cosy, toddler-friendly bedtime story about two mothers doing what mothers do the world over: pouring juice, tucking children up in bed, playing hide and seek. Your children’s primary school or your local library might well have a copy. Although they might have plumped instead for And Tango Makes Three, the tale of two daddy penguins adopting a chick.
Her point, of course, was to reassure anyone alarmed by wild rumours about primary school sex education that the idea of gay relationships can be introduced in a perfectly age-appropriate way, even to five-year-olds. Watching that film, I thought how far we’ve come since the 1980s, when tabloid scare stories about leftwing councils stocking such books in libraries panicked Margaret Thatcher into introducing section 28 – the ban on local authorities “promoting homosexuality”. Now we have an openly gay schools minister and a generation of kids who thankfully won’t have to grow up heaped with corrosive, lifelong shame. Times have changed. But not so much that we can take them for granted.