Pure Poison IconSecond story on news.com.au, right under their September 11 coverage, is this shameless clickbait from the Daily Telegraph, “Lesbian foster couple put six year old boy in girl’s clothes and post photos on Facebook” (you can resist clicking on it – I’ll summarise it for you):

“More” news?

The sensationalist lead-in:

A SIX-year-old boy placed in the care of a lesbian foster couple was dressed in girl’s clothes and the humiliating pictures were posted on the couple’s Facebook page.

One of the women was preparing for a sex change to become a man at the time, while her girlfriend was undergoing fertility treatment.

But there are a lot of details missing from Janet Fife-Yeomans’ “report”, including:

  • the circumstances and details of what precisely had occurred (what were these “girl clothes”? A pink jumper? What was the context? A dress-up game?) and what the explanation was from the foster parents;
  • Who described the situation as “humiliating” and “one of the saddest [cases] in the state”;
  • The connection between the foster carers being both women (LESBIANS!) and the alleged mistreatment;
  • The connection between the foster carer undergoing a sex change and the alleged mistreatment;
  • The connection between the fertility treatment and the alleged mistreatment.

As it happens, for reasons presumably unrelated to their same-sex status, this first placement couple was found not to be suitable foster parents and the boy is now with a different family. So, unless you think that the foster care system should be psychic and prevent in advance absolutely anything possibly going wrong in a placement, presumably the message is – the system works. The boy and his sister were rescued and placed elsewhere.

But that doesn’t seem to be enough for the Daily Telegraph.

The insinuation appears to be that simply placing the children with a lesbian couple was the problem, and that the foster care agency should’ve just known that any woman crazy enough to be a lesbian was likely to “humiliate” a child entrusted to her:

former Children’s Court magistrate Barbara Holborow yesterday called for a full inquiry into the decision to put them there. “Oh my God, what are we doing?” Ms Holborow, who has fostered eight children, said.

Families Minister Pru Goward has demanded a full explanation from child welfare service Barnardos, which had recruited the couple.

Do Pru and Barbara call for full inquiries into every foster care arrangement that goes wrong? What was so special about this one? Was it anything more than the words “lesbian”, “fertility treatment” and “sex-change”? Is there any research indicating that those should be grounds to block foster carers? If not – and the answer is “no, there is not” – then what on Earth should Barnardos have done differently? Why are we reading a beatup about lesbians suggesting, quite inaccurately, that they are bad parents who should be blocked by the state?

A surprisingly lazy, uninformative story from the Daily Telegraph that I’m sure will get them lots of website hits.

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