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Judge tosses
lawsuit over talk of same-sex marriage in classroom

Judge tosses
lawsuit over talk of same-sex marriage in classroom

A federal judge in Boston Friday threw out a lawsuit filed by parents who wanted to keep their children from learning about same-sex marriage in school.

U.S. district judge Mark Wolf said federal courts have decided in other cases that parents' rights to exercise their religious beliefs are not violated when their children are exposed to contrary ideas.

The case attracted attention in part because Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex marriage.

''In essence under the Constitution public schools are entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy,'' Wolf said in his ruling.

Toni and David Parker of Lexington, Mass., sued after their 5-year-old son brought home a book from kindergarten that depicted a gay family. Another Lexington couple joined the suit after a second-grade teacher read the class a fairy tale about two princes falling in love.

Both couples claimed Lexington school officials violated their parental rights to teach their own morals to their children and said they have religious beliefs that homosexuality is immoral. They said they did not want to dictate curriculum but wanted to be notified before gay couples were discussed so they could remove their children from classrooms.

''It boils down to this simple thing: The parents have a fundamental right to be the primary directors of their children's upbringing and moral education,'' David Parker said Friday.

Jeffrey Denner, an attorney for the parents, said they would appeal the ruling to the first U.S. circuit court of appeals and refile the claims in state court.

John Davis, an attorney for the school officials, said the books did not focus on sex education but merely depicted various families, including those headed by same-sex couples.

Forty-five states ban same-sex marriage, most of them through voter-approved amendments. New Jersey, Vermont, and Connecticut offer civil unions, which offer the protections and benefits of marriage without the title, and California offers domestic partnerships with similar benefits.The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which supported the school officials, praised the ruling

''This is not a case about teaching about homosexuality. This is a case where Lexington sought to teach about diversity and about having respect,'' said Sarah Wunsch, ACLU staff attorney. (Denise Lavoie, AP)

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