If a book about gay marriage entered a classroom in your local school district, you'd cheer, right? Well, not everyone agrees: children's book King & King was read aloud to North Carolina 3rd graders, and a group of parents are... let's say unhappy about it.
Since back in 2002 when it was released, Dutch authors Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland's children's book King & King has been awash in controversy, even earning a spot on TIME magazine's top 10 list for book banning. King & King is a picture book fairytale about a prince who sidesteps expectations and follows his heart, marrying a man instead of a woman, which upsets his royal family. So, while it's no surprise that Orange County, North Carolina parents are also upset a teacher picked the book for story time, it still serves as a reminder every time of how far we still have to go.
Omar Currie is an openly gay 3rd grade teacher at Efland-Cheeks Elementary School. He says he read the book aloud to his class as a discussion point in an ongoing problem they have been having with bullying:
We talked about how the moral of the book was just you accept others the way they are. Some of the kids said the book made them feel a little uncomfortable, and I told them that was fine.
Parents disagreed, however. While some parents argued that, at least, they should have been notified of the book ahead of time — hopefully so that they could open a discussion with their children — others were flat-out outraged.
Efland resident Frederick McAdoo (it isn't clear if he's a parent of a 3rd grader or not), expressed his thoughts on Currie reading King & King:
They keep religion out of school. Let's be careful what else we want to enter into school. ...It's just too young. We shouldn't have to go through this.
They need to learn, read, write. We are losing that.
Hm. I'm unsure how reading a picture book aloud to 3rd graders makes them "lose" learning, reading, and writing. In fact, reading aloud to children is cited as a pathway to increased literacy.
The backlash from parents was so severe that Currie says he plans to resign from his job, and it seems clear that he hasn't had support from his school district on his decision to read the book, as the principal even threw him under the bus saying that the school needs to review its common core standards:
We are dealing with this matter and following policy as best we can in light of the situation and I think this will be a huge learning experience for our staff and our community. I think that letting parents know and be key aspects of the educational process is huge.
That "learning experience"? Seems to be if you read aloud a book aimed at children that talks about accepting people they way they are, you'll be pushed out of a job.