By Pam Blume
Christian Action League
June 12, 2015
EFLAND, NC — A recent controversy in an Orange County school concerning a book promoting same sex marriage has revealed more issues than just the marriage question.
The issues of parental rights and the right to hold to traditional biblical beliefs have come to light in the comments made in the wake of the controversy.
In response to perceived bullying of one his male students by other boys in the class, teacher Omar Currie decided to read the book “King & King” to his third-grade class at Efland-Cheeks Elementary School in rural western Orange County.
The book has been described as a “fable” written and illustrated for children. It is about a prince whose mother, the queen, wants him to get married. The prince’s dilemma is he doesn’t really care for princesses. To sum it up, he falls in love with another prince and they get married and live happily ever after. The book ends with the two kissing with a heart covering their mouths.
According to the Raleigh News and Observer (N&O), teacher Currie, who identifies as homosexual, describes the bullied child as “a little feminine” and he observed other boys calling him names. He then decided to address the issue of bullying by reading the book to his class. He got a copy of the book from the assistant principa,l Meg Goodhand.
Currie said that several children expressed discomfort with the topic. He explained to them that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable when confronted by something new.
As word got out about the book, parents began to express concern, especially upset that they were not notified that their children would be exposed to the topic without their permission.
Principal Kiley Brown asked a school review board to read the book and they did not see any reason to ban it. A meeting was set up for parents to express their concerns. Media reports indicated that a good portion of parents and teachers expressed support for Currie, while some were adamant that their rights and responsibilities as parents had been usurped.
Parent Rodney Davis said, “These are my children. These are not your children. What gives you the right to tell me what they can listen to and what they can hear in our school? That’s bullying.”
The school has instituted a policy that teachers will be required to inform parents of the books they are using in the classroom. Parents will be given the choice to opt their child out of any such lessons. Teachers must also give a written report of any bullying incident.
Currie was not pleased with the new requirement. “This egregious policy created an undue burden on teachers, and it hurts students. The district must understand silence is poison,” he said. He indicated he will probably resign at the end of the school year. (See a video of an interview with Omar Currie at www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article22524144.html in which he says that those who do not agree with same sex marriage are a minority and wrong.)
The book, King and King, is not new to controversy. Available in the United States since 2003 (authors Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland are Dutch), it has been the source of bans and lawsuits. According to the Raleigh N&O, parents sued a Massachusetts school district over the appropriateness of the book. The suit was dismissed, the judge saying that diversity is the hallmark of the nation.
In a letter to the N&O on May 15, U.S. Representative (District 3) Walter Jones said in 2005, he had introduced a bill in the house that would have established parent review councils that would review books that their elementary school children were reading as a condition for receiving federal funds. This was in response to the controversy the book was causing at that time. “Parents of young children need to know and have a say in what books their children have access to in school.” He was disappointed that even with a Republican majority; his bill was not given a hearing and died in committee.
This should be a wake-up call for parents to take the initiative to monitor what goes on in their child’s classroom. There may be a time soon when parents may have to make some great sacrifices in order to educate their children at home or a private school that reflects and supports their Christian values.
Reading the comments on the online reports of this story is not for the faint of heart. Christians are called hateful, bigoted and ignorant. They are usual charges.
Assistant principal Goodhand, who had given Currie the book, read a statement during the public meeting expressing support for him. “I am here to stand with Mr. Currie and other educators to speak for the many voices that have been silenced within our schools’ walls and the community.”
It seems, however, it is the voices of those who hold to biblical morality that are the ones being silenced.