The out North Carolina teacher who read a gay fairy tale to his 7- and 8-year-old students has decided to close this chapter and move on, reports The News & Observer of Raleigh, even though the controversy is far from over.
Efland-Cheeks Elementary School in Orange County, N.C., accepted the resignations Monday of third-grade teacher Omar Currie and assistant principal Meg Goodhand.
Goodhand provided the children’s book King & King to Currie when he sought her help in teaching tolerance to his students. Although Orange County Schools officials told WRAL TV they had no reports of bullying in Currie’s class, Currie said one boy was bullied for being effeminate and called “gay” in a derogatory way.
King & King is a story in which two princes meet, fall in love, and get married, although the local TV station described it a little differently to its Raleigh-Durham audience: “The children's book is about a homosexual man's quest for love and includes a picture at the end of two princes kissing.”
The book King & King may be unfamiliar to parents at Efland-Cheeks Elementary, but it is included in the third through fifth grade LGBTQ-friendly curriculum in the San Francisco Unified School District, whose website says it “reminds students to respect differences in families. “
After Currie read King & King to his students, three parents complained, saying the book was inappropriate for children that age, and at least one said parents should have been notified in advance.
A community meeting last month drew 200 people, and among them were some angry parents.
“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 was one of the original three to file a complaint and 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.”
Efland-Cheeks Elementary officials upheld Currie's use of the book in April as well as that meeting last month, ruling that the book was appropriate. But following that raucous May hearing, Currie said principal Kiley Brown now requires teachers to submit a list of all books they read to parents in advance.
Currie citied the lack of support from administrators as the reason for his resignation.
“I’m just disappointed,” Currie told The News & Observer. Even though he’s now fielding offers to teach elsewhere, he is preparing to defend his actions at yet another school district hearing this week. The meeting is the result of another appeal by Davis, who was ejected from the last hearing for interrupting the school superintendent.