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Thread: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

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    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/art...point_to_make/
    Arrested father had point to make

    Disputed school's lesson on diversity

    By Maria Cramer and Ralph Ranalli, Globe Staff | April 29, 2005

    CONCORD -- For David Parker, the first alarm went off in January, when his 5-year-old son came home from his kindergarten class at Lexington's Joseph Estabrook School with a bag of books promoting diversity.

    Inside were books about foreign cultures and traditions, along with food recipes. There was also a copy of ''Who's In a Family?" by Robert Skutch, which depicts different kinds of families, including same-sex couples raising children.

    The book's contents concerned Parker and prompted him to begin a series of e-mail exchanges with school officials on the subject that culminated in a meeting Wednesday night with Estabrook's principal and district director of instruction. The meeting ended with Parker's arrest after he refused to leave the school, and the Lexington man spent the night in jail.

    Yesterday, Parker was arraigned in Concord District Court on one count of trespassing, and a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Bail was set at $1,000, and Parker was freed after being ordered to stay off Lexington school property. He is due back in court June 1.

    Parker and his wife, Tonia, 34, who was also in court yesterday, said the dispute arose because they asked school officials to notify them about classroom discussions about same-sex marriage and what they called other adult themes. They also wanted the option to exclude their boy, now 6, from those talks.

    Parker said he met with school officials to gain those assurances and then refused to leave until he got them. Parker stayed at Estabrook School for more than two hours, according to Superintendent William J. Hurley, as officials and Lexington police urged him to leave. Finally, they arrested him for trespassing.

    Parker, who refused to bail himself out of jail Wednesday night, said he spent the night in custody to prove a point.

    ''I chose to stay, which I'm not sure was a wise move," he said. ''But I wanted to see how far they would go for asking something simple." Parker said he wanted to control ''the timing and manner" in which his son learned about ''adult themes."

    ''This is not about creating a forum for hate . . . for any segment of society," Parker said after his arraignment. ''I'm just trying to be a good dad."

    Hurley did not return calls for comment yesterday. But in an April 27 letter to Parker, Hurley warned him to stay away from school property.

    ''If you are found on Lexington public schools' properties you will be subject to arrest by the Lexington police," Hurley wrote. ''Access to school properties can only be accomplished with prior written authorization from the superintendent of schools or his designee."

    David Parker said he moved his family from New Jersey to Lexington last year after his employer relocated him. He acknowledged yesterday that he and his wife oppose same-sex unions, but they described themselves as Christians who do not advocate hatred.

    ''We're not intolerant," said Tonia Parker. ''We love all people. That is part of our faith."

    A handful of supporters of the Parker family appeared at the courthouse yesterday, including Brian Camenker, director of Article 8 Alliance. The group, which opposes same-sex marriage, posted e-mail exchanges between the Parkers and school officials on the matter on its website. Camenker said Parker contacted him in January.

    The case drew interest across the state yesterday.

    Governor Mitt Romney, an opponent of same-sex marriage, said: ''Schools under our parental-notification law are required to inform parents . . . of matters relating to human sexuality that may be taught in the classroom and to allow that child to be out of the classroom for that period of the education."

    Romney said he supports parents' right to know, though he declined to speak specifically about the Parker case.

    Thomas B. Griffiths, Lexington School Committee chairman, said parents of older students are notified in advance when sex education will be taught.

    ''We don't view telling a child that there is a family out there with two mommies as teaching about homosexuality, heterosexuality, or any kind of sexuality," he said. ''We are teaching about the realities of where different children come from."

    The bag of books promoting diversity is sent home with one student at a time, said Rachel F. Cortez, copresident of the Estabrook parent-teacher association and a member of the school's Anti-Bias Committee.

    Parents received notice about the book bag at the beginning of the year and the date that it was scheduled to be sent home with their child. The bag's contents also were put on display at a back-to-school night earlier in the school year, she said, and parents are not required to have their child bring it home.

    ''The kids don't have to take them [the materials] home," she said. ''Parents can either opt out entirely or use whatever materials they want."

    Tonia Parker said yesterday she attended back-to-school night, but was not told about the bag or its contents.

    David Parker said the topic of Wednesday's meeting was not about the book bag, but about concerns that his son could be exposed to more books and lessons about ''gay-headed" households.

    ''We're not giving unfettered access to the psyche of our son when he enters the school," said Tonia Parker.
    /r/reds

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    ''We don't view telling a child that there is a family out there with two mommies as teaching about homosexuality, heterosexuality, or any kind of sexuality," he said. ''We are teaching about the realities of where different children come from."
    Well, it *is* teaching about homosexuality, and that's a huge issue in the country right now, so it seems like the school should have made parents aware of that.

    Parents received notice about the book bag at the beginning of the year and the date that it was scheduled to be sent home with their child. The bag's contents also were put on display at a back-to-school night earlier in the school year, she said, and parents are not required to have their child bring it home.

    ''The kids don't have to take them [the materials] home," she said. ''Parents can either opt out entirely or use whatever materials they want."
    ...and it sounds like they *did* make the parents aware.

    Tonia Parker said yesterday she attended back-to-school night, but was not told about the bag or its contents.
    More likely, school officials did make the announcement, but Mrs. Parker didn't really understand what they were doing and didn't ask any questions about the content.

    I think both parties were at fault here. The school should have gone out of its way to ensure that parents understood what was going on. But Mr. Parker shouldn't have become irrational about the issue and caused such a problem.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    I think you probably nailed it, Johnny.

    My guess is that the school couched its explanation of the materials in euphemisms, perhaps not going any farther than saying they were sending home a bag of materials discussing "diversity." The Parkers probably took that to mean discussion of ethnic groups different from their own, but the school obviously intended it to mean something more broad.
    /r/reds

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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    IMO... a 5-year-old should be counseled by their parents on these matters. Once they are around 10-years-old, then I think it is okay for the school to distribute some of this stuff. 5-years-old seems too young to start giving them stuff like this. Can most 5-year-olds even read?

    I am sure the school means well. But at 5-years-old, teach them how to tie their shoes and how to get along with their classmates (regardless of their classmates skin). Teach them numbers and their ABCs. Teach them writing skills. Diversity materials at 5-years-old? Too young.

    And it sounds like Dad is immature. He should teach his child that there are right and wrong ways to handle matters. He taught his kid the wrong way to handle something. I hope Dad makes better choices, that could reflect on his child, in the future.
    Small market fan... always hoping, but never expecting.

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    Hot Stove Season HotCorner's Avatar
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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    Parker, who refused to bail himself out of jail Wednesday night, said he spent the night in custody to prove a point.

    ''I chose to stay, which I'm not sure was a wise move," he said.
    Nothing like thinking your actions through and weighting the consequences before making a drastic decision.

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    I'm sorry, but these are issues that schools should not be wandering into. It causes too much controversy. Schools are not parents and should not be allowed to circumvent (or usurp) parental control. It seems like it is happening more and more these days... to heck with parents because they have no idea how to raise their children properly. School administrators know what is best.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    It seems like it is happening more and more these days... to heck with parents because they have no idea how to raise their children properly. School administrators know what is best.
    They're trying to teach tolerance in order to avoid conflict and violence. I think their hearts are in the right place, but they really should have done everything they could to make it perfectly clear to parents that they were promoting tolerance of homosexuality. They should have known what a heated issue it is.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Household

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    They're trying to teach tolerance in order to avoid conflict and violence. I think their hearts are in the right place, but they really should have done everything they could to make it perfectly clear to parents that they were promoting tolerance of homosexuality. They should have known what a heated issue it is.
    Exactly. This household, even as Christian in disagreement with the lifestyle, teaches tolerance. You can be in disagreement without being hateful. These are issues that schools need to tread very lightly into IMO.

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    Harry Chiti Fan registerthis's Avatar
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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    Not that this father was behaving this way, but a question I have concerning this topic....

    How far should schools go to promote tolerance and diversity? Suppose a parent comes forth and says they want to raise their child to be a racist homophobic bigot. Do the schools have the power to usurp parental control and present the child with morality-based views that are in contradiction to what they are being taught at home? (In other words, do the schools have a duty to ensure that the children they turn out are not racist bigots, in spite of what the parents may do?) Or do (and should) the parents have the ultimate say wiht how their child is raised, regardless of how repugnant their views are?

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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    Quote Originally Posted by registerthis
    Do the schools have the power to usurp parental control and present the child with morality-based views that are in contradiction to what they are being taught at home?
    I'd say that they should, though I don't know that they do. The public entrusts (and funds) its schooling system to help shape future members of its society into productive citizens, and racism/intolerance/bigotry is directly counterproductive to the health of our society as a whole.
    "It's easier to give up. I'm not a very vocal player. I lead by example. I take the attitude that I've got to go out and do it. Because of who I am, I've got to give everything I've got to come back."
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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Boston Dad Arrested After Protesting School Use of Books Discussing Gay Households

    Do the schools have the power to usurp parental control and present the child with morality-based views that are in contradiction to what they are being taught at home?
    I think the school does have a duty to teach social mores, which include moral attitudes to a degree. Kids have to learn that unless they follow certain guidelines, they can't function properly in society. Even if a kid's parents are teaching him to hate, say, Muslims, the kid has to learn that it's not okay for him to go around punching Muslims, or making fun of their beliefs.

    Of course, some parents would get upset that the school is teaching "acceptance" of something they consider evil. But there is a difference between "acceptance" (embracing a belief) and "tolerance" (respecting a belief).
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful


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