I remember reading about David Parker, whose kindergarten son brought home a schoolbook depicting a gay family. He went to the school to complain--and here the story gets murky--but he ended up being arrested for refusing to leave the school when school officials wouldn't give in to his demands.
Parker and the parents of a 2nd grader have filed suit, saying the school has usurped their role in providing what they consider to be appropriate role models for their children. The parents consider information relating to homosexuality to be propaganda against their religious beliefs, while the school says that individual parents can't dictate what ideas their children are exposed to in a public school.
School district officials have asked a federal judge to dismiss the case. On what grounds, I wonder?
I can see that both sides in this case have legitimate interests, concerns, and even arguments. Would a book showing a mixed-race couple have (reasonably) spawned a lawsuit in the late 60s? While some don't see the gay rights/civil rights parallel, I certainly do. Yet I also wonder whether the school has a legitimate claim to be able to teach whatever it wants as long as the topic is legal. Throw in an added wrinkle--gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, so why can't the schools acknowledge that it exists?
I'm all about tolerance. Tolerance doesn't mean acceptance; to me, tolerance is a live and let live philosophy. Homosexuality is still a touchy enough topic in our culture that I don't think it presents an undue burden on schools to postpone talking about it until students are older and better able to understand the difficulties involved. I don't know where the age line should be, but I'm convinced that kindergarteners and 2nd graders are well on the wrong side of that age line. I recall having some rudimentary "sex ed" in 6th grade; would that be a more appropriate age to talk about (searching around for an inoffensive term here) non-standard families?
I welcome comments.
Update, 2/10/07: Sometimes the heterosexual parenting leaves a little to be desired. Or perhaps the child knows a bit too much about desire. Or something. The headline: