Thursday, October 25, 2012

Right on Schedule: "Gay Marriage Will be Taught in School"

NOM's Minnesota franchise is now airing an advertisement that claims that gay marriage will be taught to children as young as second graders. The ad features professional victims, David and Tonia Parker. Before I get into the specifics, this theme was developed by NOM's outside campaign manager, Frank Schubert, during Prop 8. The implication is that, if gay marriage is taught in school your child might choose to be homosexual and that's a terrible thing.

It only works if we take the bait! If we get into a debate about whether or not gay marriage is taught in school we are essentially agreeing that ti would be a problem if it were taught in school. Then, we say it won't     they say it will     parents end up with "it might be."

Before I get into specifics, perspective might be more important. There exist only a couple of cases where parents assert that their children are receiving offensive or inappropriate instruction in school as a result of equal marriage. The diversity of family composition is already known to children and may be a topic of classroom conversation.

The Minnesota Marriage Amendment has nothing to do with whether or not same-sex parents will be a topic of discussion in school.

What this is about is Parker's son (in kindergarten) brought home a "diversity book-bag" in 2005. Among the materials was a book showing different family structures including single-parent families, interracial families and same-sex parents. That has nothing to do with marriage. Right now, in Oklahoma, there are children with same-sex parents. Furthermore, since the kid was not old enough to read, the parents would have had to read the book to him. They presumably chose not to. The book, King & King (shown in the ad) was never involved in the Parker matter.

What Parker wanted was for his son to be opted out of any discussion of homosexuality     even if it was brought up by a student. The policy was that only sex-ed included an opt-out provision. Moreover, the school could not be responsible for what a student might say in class.

Shortly thereafter, Parker attended a school committee town hall. Needless to say, at the town hall, Parker got a tad carried away, speaking of "homosexual indoctrination," pedophiles and a litany of religious nonsense.






In spite of his efforts, it took Parker more than two hours to get arrested.



The following day, Parker and his wife met with the principal demanding that their sons be automatically opted out of anything remotely "promoting homosexuality," even if the subject arose spontaneously. The principal patiently explained that the opt-out policy did not apply because there was no discussion of human sexuality and that the school had no control over what students might say in class.

This went back and forth. Finally, the principal said that this was his decision based on his understanding of policy. He told Parker that he could appeal the matter to the Commissioner of Education. When Parker and his wife refused to leave, the police were called. At a little after 5:00 PM, a detective politely requested that they leave (Parker's wife returned to the car). A lieutenant arrived on the scene at about 6:00 pm. During discussions, Parker said "if I'm not arrested then I'm not leaving." Parker was finally arrested at 6:25 pm. He has been an anti-gay hero ever since.


Parker litigated the matter. He lost at trial and then appeal. Courts have that held that exposure to ideas through the required reading of books does not constitute a constitutionally significant burden on the free exercise of religion. The United States Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari, permitting the lower court ruling to stand. In a related case, the federal courts found that exposing students to ideas that some people find offensive is permissible particularly when the school is not requiring the student to agree with those ideas.

Up next, they will probably trot out the Wirthlins from the same era. The Wirthlins are professional Mormon activists (although they try very hard to obscure that fact).


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