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Judge mulls suit
over gay classroom talk

Judge mulls suit
over gay classroom talk

Officials from a suburban Massachusetts school district asked a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two couples who claim their parental rights were violated when homosexuality was discussed in their children's classrooms.

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf did not immediately issue a decision in the case from Lexington but peppered lawyers on both sides with questions and said he understood the importance of the case to both parents and school administrators.

Tonia and David Parker sued after their 5-year-old son brought home a book from kindergarten that depicted a gay family. David Parker was later arrested for refusing to leave his son's school after officials would not agree to notify him when homosexuality was discussed in his son's class.

Another Lexington couple, Joseph and Robin Wirthlin, joined the Parkers in the suit after a second-grade teacher read ''King and King'' to her class. The fairy tale tells the story of two princes falling in love.

Both couples claim Lexington school officials violated their parental rights to teach their own morals to their children.

The case has attracted a great deal of attention in Massachusetts, the only U.S. state that allows same-sex marriage.

John Davis, an attorney for Lexington school officials, argued in court Wednesday that teaching diversity is a ''legitimate state interest.'' He said that it would be ''an administrative nightmare'' for schools in Massachusetts to try to predict when the topic of gay marriage will come up and to inform parents ahead of time.

''The parents do have rights ... but they don't have the right to dictate to the public school system what their children can be exposed to in the way of ideas,'' Davis said.

Robert Sinsheimer, an attorney for the parents who filed the lawsuit, called the homosexual discussions and materials ''a form of propaganda'' that goes against the parents' religious beliefs. He said the parents do not want to dictate curriculum, but do want to be able to remove their young children from classrooms when homosexuality or gay marriage is being discussed.

''What they fear is that their children are being brainwashed,'' he said.

About 30 people on both sides of the issue demonstrated outside the courthouse. (Denise Lavoie, AP)

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