The ABC has denied a Play School episode featuring a drag queen reading stories about children wanting to dress as the opposite sex was an example of “grooming” children.
The broadcaster’s managing director David Anderson said the program, featuring drag queen Courtney Love, was merely about “dressing up”.
Anderson was responding to a question from Liberal Senator Alex Antic during a Senate Estimates hearing on Tuesday.
“The program was rated G and has been heavily promoted on TV and on the app. Why is the ABC grooming children with this sort of adult content?” Antic asked.
Anderson replied: “I don't see that as grooming children with our content. That particular program is reading from a book that is about dressing up.”
The ABC has an agreement with the Aids Council Of NSW (ACON) to promote LGBTQ inclusion but denied this had any bearing on editorial content after Media Watch recently exposed the link.
Referring to the Play School episode, Antic told the hearing: “That is what grooming looks like. Cross dressing. Let me ask you this, does ABC agree that transgender or cross dressing are adult concepts?”
Anderson rejected the idea that a drag queen reading a book was “adult content”.
“I don't accept what you are saying about somebody who is trans grooming Australian children. That's not - that whole story time was not about that, it was about dressing up,” he said.
“I think children do dress up senator, and a story about dressing up is acceptable.”
Anderson said he did not believe the ABC was contributing to a rise in the number of children identifying as something other than their biological sex.
“I don't think we're generating anything. If anything, the ABC reflects what is happening the Australian community,” he said.
He said the national broadcaster should reflect Australians.
“If we're going to be relevant to all Australians, and we need to be relevant to all Australians, then I think we need to reflect the diversity that's in the community,” he said.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said grooming was “a really serious matter” and accused Antic of using the term in a bid to generate a headline.
Antic shot back: “It is amazing what triggers a response. The truth. The truth that the ABC is grooming our children.”