Omar Currie is a 25-year old second-year third-grade elementary school teacher in Charlotte, NC. He noticed that one of the children in his class was being bullied and called ‘gay’ in a derogatory way by fellow students. In order to make the child feel that he was not alone and to teach children tolerance and acceptance, he recalled that he had heard in his teacher-education program about a book called King & King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland that is a fable that tells the story of two princes who fall in love and get married. Since the class was reading fairy stories, he thought that book would make for a timely inclusion. The book was not available in his school library but his assistant principal had a copy and he borrowed it and read it to the class.
Well, you can guess what happened. When some parents got wind of it, they complained and said that parents should have been given notice about the book and the opportunity to have their children opt out before the book was read to the class.
A parent who does not have a child in Currie’s class came to the school to protest the book – and Currie – last Friday. Three sheriff’s deputies were present as a precaution, Sheriff Charles Blackwood said. The man exited the school but carried a protest sign along a nearby road.
Currie said administrators pulled him out of his classroom to tell him about the man. A short time later, he said, officials told him and another teacher who had taken their students outside for recess to come back indoors.
Frederick McAdoo, 53, who attended the school in the late 1960s, has put three children through Efland-Cheeks. He saw the man with the sign on the road last week.
“It doesn’t fit in,” McAdoo said of reading a tale featuring gay characters to third-graders.
“People have been gay for years. People have been lesbian for years,” the retired power company worker said Thursday. “But why (does) a third-grader needs to know about that?”
Even though a committee that reviewed the complaint felt that the book was appropriate for the class, the school administration made a new rule that said that teachers had to provide parents with a list of all the books they will read in class, presumably so that they can identify those that are objectionable and raise a fuss.
As a result of the rule, Currie and the assistant principal who lent him the copy have resigned because they did not feel supported by the administration.