Pro-Homosexual Bias Trumps Parental Rights
Special Report - February 4, 2008
Elementary schools in Massachusetts are not required to alert parents before using pro-homosexual books in the classroom, according to a recent ruling by a federal appeals court. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld an earlier ruling by the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts that dismissed the lawsuit, Parker v. Hurley. The landmark case involves the rights of parents to determine whether or not their children will be exposed to material that violates their religious beliefs. Two sets of parents, David and Tonia Parker, and Joseph and Robin Wirthlin, filed suit against the Lexington, Massachusetts School District, where their children attended school, for refusing to notify them in advance about the use of books depicting homosexual families, and for refusing to allow their children to opt out of classes where these materials are used.
In the Parker’s case, their son was exposed to two pro-homosexual books while in kindergarten and the first grade at Estabrook ElementaryWho’s in a Family? (which features several different types of families, including those with two same-sex parents) and Molly’s Family (a picture book about a little girl who has lesbian mothers). When the Wirthlin’s son was in the second grade at the same school, his teacher read aloud from the picture book, King and King, which is a fairy tale about a homosexual prince who rejects several princesses and falls in love with another prince. The last page features a picture of the two princes kissing, with a red heart covering their mouths. Both the Parkers and the Wirthlins (on separate occasions) requested that their children not be exposed to any more material featuring homosexual relationships without giving them prior notice, and asked that their children be allowed to opt out of class sessions dealing with these topics. Despite the fact that Massachusetts has a law that requires schools to notify parents and give them the option of opting their children out of classes that deal with sex education or human sexuality issues, the school’s administration denied their requests. In a public statement responding to the issue in 2005, Paul Ash, the Lexington Superintendent of Schools, reiterated the school system’s policy to not provide parental notification for “discussions, activities, or materials that simply reference same-gender parents or that otherwise recognize the existence of differences in sexual orientation.”
Both families filed suit against the school district in district court, charging the schools with indoctrinating “young children into the concept that homosexuality and marriage between same-sex partners is moral and accepted, and that those who hold a faith such as the Parkers are incorrect in their beliefs.” They argued that their First Amendment rights and the rights of their children had been violated as a result. The district court judge dismissed their lawsuit, and the families appealed.
In its ruling upholding the district court’s dismissal of the case, the federal appeals court noted that, “It is a fair inference that the reading of King and King was precisely intended to influence the listening children toward tolerance of gay marriage. That was the point of why that book was chosen and used. Even assuming there is a continuum along which an intent to influence could become an intent to indoctrinate, however, this case is firmly on the influence-toward-tolerance end. . . Requiring a child to read a particular book is generally not coercive of free exercise rights.” The appeals court concluded that: “Public schools often walk a tightrope between the many competing constitutional demands made by parents, students, teachers and the school’s other constituents. . . .The balance the school struck here does not offend the Free Exercise or Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
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