When intolerant people give in to their fear,
injustice and inequity ever shall appear.
Omar Currie was a teacher at Efland Cheeks Elementary High School in Orange County, North Carolina. He resigned from his job following complaints from parents about a book he read in class. The book, pictured below, portrays a ::gasp:: homosexual relationship! Do run for the hills now.
Hoping to stop anti-gay bullying in his class, Currie chose to read this book to his third-grade class:
Omar, who is gay, shared the book hoping to stem the bullying of a student with some “feminine” behaviors, which caused other boys to call him “gay” – and not in a good way.
King and King is a fairy tale about a prince who is expected to marry a princess and live happily ever after, but instead falls in love with another prince. Reading the book drew a complaint from at least one parent, who accused Mr. Currie of “infiltrating young minds, indoctrinating children into a gay agenda and actively promoting homosexuality to steer our children in that direction.”
Oh look, it’s been 12 hours. Time for a dose of that “gay agenda” fear-mongering bullshit. The only direction Currie was trying to push kids in is one of acceptance of homosexuals as people who do not deserve to be crapped on. He was trying to help normalize homosexuality, which obviously is a problem for people who are anti-gay. It’s funny bc I’m almost certain that parent is a theist, and likely a Christian, who indoctrinates their child in religion. Of course, that’s not seen as a bad thing.
According to school policy, that complaint required a review committee to hold a public meeting.
That public discussion was held May 13, with about three-quarters of the crowd in support of Omar. One parent who spoke, Kim Grooms, said children should be exposed to a variety of cultures, “and it is disappointing that this teacher does not feel supported.” Another speaker, Tyla Olson, noted that gay people can now legally marry in North Carolina.
“We cannot shelter our children from same-sex marriage,” she said. “We should allow diversity to be taught in our school. Teach peace and acceptance.”
It’s nice to hear from a voice of reason. Same-sex marriages are a normal part of society now and they ought to be treated as such. They ought to be treated as normal. After all, there is nothing wrong with them. Of course the intolerant bigots don’t agree with that:
The other quarter (as they always are) were adamantly opposed. Lisa Baptist, who said she is a grandmother, said she worries children might try what they saw in the book.
“I’ve been called a racist. I’ve been called a bigot, and I am none of those things,” said Baptist. “This is nothing more than bringing homosexuality into a school where it does not belong.”
Let me guess, she’d prefer for it to be in the closet. If homosexuality doesn’t belong in school, what then of gay people? Do gay teachers not belong in school? What about other gay administrators? What about gay children? Do they not belong either? Are you going to call for all lesbian, gay, or bisexual people to be ostracized simply because you don’t like their sexual orientation? Once again, someone takes issue with the sexual orientation of others as if it has any bearing on the type of person they are, or as if it affects anyone else. It doesn’t. Sexual orientation has no bearing on the quality of an individual’s character. It has no bearing on morality. Also, no one is trying to indoctrinate children. Mr. Currie was trying to promote an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance of diversity. He was trying to reduce bullying. It’s really horrifying that as a parent, you do not want to see bullying reduced. And yes, you are a bigot.
Shelby Tyson, who identified herself as a Christian, said she appreciates Mr. Currie’s zeal for teaching and that her objection was not personal.
“We’ve known there are homosexual teachers in this school for years. It doesn’t bother us.” Claimed Tyson. “I do not believe relationships as described in this book are biblically sound. Our children are still very young and emotionally immature. I do not believe they need to be educated on finding a soul mate … between two men, two women or a man and a woman.”
If Tyson is looking for biblically sound relationships, then I have just the relationship for her-polygamy! It is, after all, the most prominent type of marriage found in the Bible. It’s not the only one either! Regardless of what the Bible says about any form of marriage, it should not be the basis for deciding what is or is not taught in school. I don’t give a flying rat’s ass what your religion tells you to believe or what type of marriage to have. This is a secular school. Teachings should be evidence based, not religious based. Kids are not taught that the Earth is flat or that the sun revolves around the Earth just because those “truths” are found in the Bible. Children are not taught that earthquakes are caused by a deity or that plants can exist without sunlight just because those “truths” are found in the Bible. Just because something is taught, condoned, or prohibited in the Bible does not mean there is a place for those ideas in public schools (unless we’re talking specifically about a religion class). Teachers instruct children on the world around them based on the accumulated knowledge we’ve gathered about how the world works. That knowledge is based on evidence as determined by scientific inquiry. Not religion.
If you want to teach people that marriage or relationships between people of the same-sex are awful, horrible things that will cause the sky to fall and the heavens to crack open and the gods of all the pantheons to wage war, thus shaking the firmament of all reality-great! Do it in church. Outside of that, stop demeaning relationships from people who are doing nothing wrong, and who-I should point out-have been found to not be harmful or detrimental to children. Same-sex relationships are not harmful to children. Being exposed to them does not harm children. If anything, it exposes them to greater diversity. Of course, we decent human beings know that you intolerant haters don’t like that. Which is why you’re up in arms over a relationship between two men in a book.
In the end, school officials sided with Omar – sort of. They did not censure or sanction Omar, or remove King & King from the list of permissible reading material; but they did institute new rules that require teachers to notify parents of any book they plan to use in class and to give parents the option of removing their child from class whenever a book they object to is read. Teachers must also report all bullying incidents to school administrators on a new form.
It looks like they’re trying to have it both ways-supporting the fear-mongering parents as well as Mr. Currie. But you can’t appease people calling for greater diversity and the bigots who oppose such measures. Sure, it’s great they didn’t suspend or fire Mr. Currie, but by requiring teachers to get permission from parents before reading any book, you’re giving in to the fear-mongering bigots who are afraid of their kids being shown that there’s more to the world and relationships than heterosexual people. I doubt there would be much uproar if a teacher used a book that portrayed interracial marriages as normal either (though I can see some pushback, I’m optimistic the school would not have a problem with such a book). But gay relationships? Heaven forbid! That’s just too outlandish. The end result of this is a diminishing of LGB relationships and favoring of heterosexual ones-based on religious ridiculousness. Omar Currie saw right through the new policy:
“This egregious policy creates an undue burden on teachers, and it hurts students. The district must understand silence is poison. Omar said in his three minute speech. “I repeatedly heard from school officials that the book might have been appropriate to read in a more progressive area without parental consent, but in Efland we need time. These comments were made as if to persuade me that today is not the time to stand up and protect students … but that change on all issues must come about slowly, even if the safety of my students is compromised.”
How is the area to become more progressive, if you do not push back against the subtle and overt homophobia in the community? Progress isn’t made by sitting back and doing nothing. Nor is it achieved by giving in to the bigots and allowing them to opt-out of things that hurt their tender fee fees. Especially when they have the option to opt-out of things that demonstrably do no harm to their children. In addition, as Mr. Currie noted, he was acting out of a desire to help his students. He was trying to reduce or eliminate some of the bullying he saw in his class (pardon me if I don’t trust school administrators to do a damn thing about anti-LGBT bullying). They should be applauding him and celebrating his decision, not punishing him (and other teachers by extension).
Sadly, thanks to the pearl clutchers, Mr. Currie and Vice-Principal Goodhand chose to resign in protest. I find that admirable. Hopefully both of them are able to find employment quickly.