I was on vacation last week so I have been catching up with the comments section, some of the most interesting ones came in the Words Like Violence post in light of the revised curriculm for the Elementary School Caring School Curriculum which will be on the agenda at tonight’s School Board meeting. One of the main questions that popped into my head while reading some of the comments was: where is this Gay Agenda and where can I get a copy of it?
Then my mind wanders off and I wonder what a Gay Agenda might look like and wonder if getting a mani-pedi comes before or after the “muzzling of the clergy and Christian media” and if — at some point — there might be time for a chorus of You Gotta Have a Gimmick.
And then I went off to review the curriculum itself, while — personally — I would be more than comfortable with my own children sitting through the first set. The revised set is fine too. Personally, I think the School District made a big mistake by presenting the initial curriculum the way that they did which was — from what I can tell — handouts that accompanied the documentary film It’s Elementary. The new versions area lot cleaner and more straightforward.
Someone asked if parents would be allowed to review the texts and complete curriculum prior to the final decision being made on May 12. Personally, if I were concerned about the text I wouldn’t wait for it to be handed to me on a silver platter, but rather actively going out and seeking these texts/videos to understand what it is that I might be objecting to. Here is the proposed list of texts/videos by grade:
- Kindergarten: The New Girl and Me by Jacqui Robbins (not available through the Library)
- 1st Grade: Who’s In a Familyby Robert Skutch (not available through the Library)
- 2nd Grade: And Tango Makes Three by J. Richardson and P. Parnell (the Main Library and both branches carry this book, the Bay Farm one is terribly overdue according to the on-line catalog)
- 3rd Grade: That’s a Family (you can stream the video for only $4.99 on your computer)
- 4th Grade: My School is Accepting But Things Could Be Better by Robert (p. 4 on the reader)
- 5th Grade: no additional materials
While searching for information about the texts, I ran across this 2005 article from Massachusettes about a father who was arrested for not leaving his child’s school after the kid brought home Who’s In a Family in his “Diversity Book Bag.” What stood out in the article to me is the mother saying:
”We’re not intolerant,” said Tonia Parker. ”We love all people. That is part of our faith.”
Which positively smacks of those throwaway statements about having black/gay/asian/etc friends and then proceeding to say something highly negative. And in the series of emailsmemorialized on MassResistance.com (a site that appears to be solely about fighting the “gay agenda” the parents write:
…We don’t believe gay parents constitute a spiritually healthy family and should not be celebrated…
But yet that family “love[s] all people.”
Here’s my issue with the whole outrage over this curriculum, for those that say that elementary school aged children are just too young to understand adult issues such where babies come from or that sometimes a family consists of two mommies or two daddies or one mommy or one daddy or grandparents or an aunt instead of the traditional one mommy and one daddy, the fact is, these different types of families exist. Whether you like it or not. Their existence is a fact, like 2 + 2 = 4. To have an issue with a picture book that depicts the reality of the world we live in — where every family is not like the Cleavers, — speaks not to the inappropriateness of the subject matter but rather one’s own personal biases.
For decades school children are taught the story of Romulus and Remus and how they were raised by a wolf. We grew up with the Kipling tale of Mowgli and we all wanted to emulate Tarzan swinging on a vine. I can’t remember anyone protesting the reading/viewing of any of these stories.
I suppose what I am having the most difficulty with is the idea that the words “lesbian” and “gay” are innately sexual or contains some sort of sexual reference. Susan D. put it best when she wrote:
…After thinking about it for awhile, I realized it’s because I don’t think of “lesbian” and “gay” as being any more sexual than “man and wife” or “boyfriend and girlfriend.” So if I say that two women at our school are lesbians or two men at our church are gay, I’m simply saying that they are two people who have fallen in love with someone of the same gender.
Similarly, if I say that Sam has “two Mommies” or Darlene has “two Daddies,” it no more introduces a “sexual component” than saying that Charlie lives with his Mom and Dad (or his grandmother, or his foster mother, or whatever).
To me, the terms describe whole relationships, not just sex. As such, it’s entirely appropriate to give children words to describe the relationships that they are seeing around them on a daily basis…
For me, those words are no more sexual that teaching my kids the appropriate names of different body parts or that boys and girls are physiologically different.
One of the most helpful things about Mike McMahon’s site is the collection of comments by parents and community members on the topic, I didn’t do a count but the pros and cons appear to be pretty evenly divided even though folks will tell you that one side outweighs the other.