While the trial of a Massachusetts parent arrested while attempting to secure a promise from school officials to notify parents before teaching about homosexuality in his son’s kindergarten class has been postponed until next month, the school district is taking a hard line against such notification.
Paul Ash, the superintendent of schools in Lexington, has announced his instructions to all teachers in the district to give no notice to parents of efforts to teach “diversity” lessons about “alternative lifestyles” – even in primary grades.
David Parker, parent of kindergartner, stands before Judge Robert McKenna in Concord District Court April 28 after spending the night in jail (Photo: Article 8 Alliance)
In April, David Parker of Lexington spent a night in jail and was charged with criminal trespassing after refusing to leave a scheduled meeting with officials at the Estabrook Elementary School unless they provided parental notice of such lessons and gave him the option of pulling his child out of those classes.
Parker says the officials had indicated they would agree to a notification policy, then suddenly refused. He insists he has done nothing wrong and is willing to contest the charge rather than plea-bargain.
David Parker’s son brought home the book ‘Who’s in a Family?’ in school’s ‘Diversity Book Bag’ (Image: Article 8 Alliance)
The dispute began last spring when Parker’s then-5-year-old son brought home a book to be shared with his parents titled, “Who’s in a Family?” The optional reading material, which came in a “Diversity Book Bag,” depicted at least two households led by homosexual partners.
The illustrated book says, “A family can be made up in many different ways” and includes this text:
“Laura and Kyle live with their two moms, Joyce and Emily, and a poodle named Daisy. It takes all four of them to give Daisy her bath.”
Another illustrated page says:
“Robin’s family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad’s partner, Henry, and Robin’s cat, Sassy. Clifford and Henry take turns making dinner for their family.”
Following the meeting in which he was arrested, Parker was also ordered to keep off school grounds. He says he is not even permitted to pick up his own child from the school.
Meanwhile, Ash explained in a written statement on the controversy that the school district has no obligation to provide parental notification of such lessons because they are not about “human sexuality,” but rather about “tolerance and respect.”
Massachusetts state law requires parental notification of discussion of human sexuality issues in the classroom. Gov. Mitt Romney, in fact, has stated the law should apply in this Lexington case. Ash disagrees.
He said in his written statement: “The Massachusetts Department of Education, which is responsible for administering Section 32A, has explained that activities and materials designed to promote tolerance and respect for individuals, including recognition of differences in sexual orientation ‘without further instruction on the physical and sexual implications’ do not trigger the notice and opt out provisions of Section 32A. Under this standard, staff has no obligation to notify parents of discussions, activities, or materials that simply reference same-gender parents or that otherwise recognize the existence of differences in sexual orientation. Accordingly, I expect teachers to continue to allow children access to such activities and materials to the extent appropriate to children’s ages, to district goals of respecting diversity, and to the curriculum.’”