About 200 people attended a meeting in North Carolina last night to discuss the controversy that arose after a third-grade teacher read a gay-themed storybook to his class in response to a bullying incident.
Some parents were outraged that Omar Currie read the book King & King to his students. The book offers a twist on the traditional fairy tale with a story of a crown prince who rejects various princesses as potential mates and finds true love with another prince. The story ends with them marrying and sealing their union with a kiss.
Currie read the book to his students at Efland-Cheeks Elementary School in Orange County, N.C., about three weeks ago, reports The News & Observer of Raleigh. He did it in order to teach tolerance after a boy in his class was bullied for being effeminate and called "gay" in a derogatory way, said Currie, who is gay.
Some of those who attended the meeting said the book was inappropriate for third-graders and that other stories could be used to teach that bullying is wrong, the paper reports.
"I do not believe relationships as described in this book are biblically sound," said Shelby Tyson. "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."
"This is nothing more than bringing homosexuality into a school where it does not belong," said another attendee, Lisa Baptist, who said she was concerned that children would act out the story.
Rodney Davis, who had picketed the school, said parents should have been notified before the book was read to the class. "These are my children. These are not your children," said Davis, who has two children at the school. "What gives you the right to tell me what they can listen to and what they can hear in our school? That's bullying."
A week earlier, Davis had carried a sign outside the elementary school reading, "Mr. Currie read the book 'King & King' (homosexual relationships) without parents nor school's permission." After he interrupted school district spokesman Seth Stephens at the meeting, Stephens had a sheriff's deputy escorted Davis out of the school building, The News & Observer reports.
Some at the meeting expressed support for Currie. "We cannot shelter our children from same-sex marriage," said Tyla Olson. "We should allow diversity to be taught in our school. Teach peace and acceptance."
Currie also spoke at the meeting, and the applause he received indicated about three-quarters of the attendees supported him, the Raleigh paper notes. Although a school district committee has upheld the use of the book, administrators also adopted a policy mandating that teachers "notify parents of all the books they plan to read in class and to fill out a form for every bullying incident," the paper reports, and Currie objected strongly to these requirements.
"This egregious policy creates an undue burden on teachers, and it hurts students," he said. "The district must understand silence is poison."