Two sets of
parents filed a lawsuit on Thursday against a Massachusetts
town and its public school system after a teacher read a
gay-themed fairy tale to children without notifying
the parents first, their lawyers said. The
lawsuit against Lexington, a wealthy suburb about 12 miles
west of Boston, seeks unspecified damages after the
book King & King was read to a classroom of about
20 children, most of whom were 7 years old.
It also charges
that the school broke a 1996 Massachusetts law requiring
that parents be notified of sex education lessons. It names
Lexington superintendent of schools Paul Ash and
several other school and town officials.
officials were not immediately available to comment. Ash
told the Reuters news agency this week that the school
was under no legal obligation to inform parents the
book would be read. King & King tells the story
of a crown prince who rejects a bevy of beautiful
princesses, rebuffing each potential mate until
falling in love with a prince. The two marry, sealing the
union with a kiss, and live happily ever after.
Ash has said that
reading the book was not intended as sex education but
as a way to educate children about the world in which they
live, especially in Massachusetts, the only U.S. state
in which gay and lesbian couples can legally wed.
It was read during a lesson about different types of
weddings. "I see this as a civil rights issue. People
who are gay have a right to be treated equally," Ash said on
filed in U.S. district court in Boston, alleges violations
of the federal civil rights of the two sets of parents,
David and Tonia Parker and Rob and Robin Wirthlin. It
also accuses the town and school officials of
violating the Massachusetts civil rights code and the
state's parental notification law, according to the parents'
attorney, Boston law firm Denner Associates. "This is
plainly a civil rights matter," their lawyer, Jeffrey
Denner, told Reuters.
erupted when Robin Wirthlin complained to the school's
principal after her 7-year-old son told her about the
reading last month. She then turned to the
conservative Massachusetts-based advocacy group
Parents Rights Coalition, which issued a statement on the
case to the media last week.
David Parker has
been at odds with the town's school system since he
was arrested a year ago for trespassing when he refused to
leave school grounds until authorities promised to
excuse his son from classroom discussions on same-sex
parents. His son, who at the time was about 5 years
old, had brought home a "diversity book bag" that included
the book Who's in a Family? The book includes
pictures of same-sex parents along with other types of
The lawsuit comes
as California considers introducing school textbooks
highlighting the role of gays in its history. King
& King was ranked eighth among the top 10 books
people wanted removed from libraries in 2004,
according to the American Library Association. Its
Berkeley, Calif., publisher, Tricycle Press, said
complaints about the 32-page book first surfaced in 2004 in
legislator last year cited the book as reason to impose new
restrictions on library collections.
Written by two
Dutch women, the book has sold about 15,000 copies in the
United States since it was translated and published in 2002.
A sequel, King, King and Family, about a royal gay
family, was published two years later. (Reuters)