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Anti-Gay Activist David Parker Loses Appeal

Timothy Kincaid

February 1st, 2008

who-family.bmpDavid Parker is a cause célèbre for anti-gay activists.

They love to claim that he was arrested protecting his child from a “homosexual curriculum” in his kindergarten class. Here’s the real story:

In January 2005, Jacob Parker brought home a diversity book bag from his kindergarten. Included in the bag was books about other cultures and traditions, food recipes, and a book called Who’s in a Family. The illustrations included various family constructions: single parents, mom-dad-kids, grandparents, mixed-race families, and same-sex parents.

David Parker, his father, decided that young Jacob was entitled to ignorance of the existence of same-sex headed families. He set out to change school policy so that his child not be exposed to that fact. He extended his demands to include any discussion of same-sex parenting, regardless of the context or setting – including any conversations of children of gay or lesbian parents.

Because the school district has a large number of same-sex families, many with children attending the school, the administration deemed Parker’s request to be nearly impossible.

This resulted in a string of emails and eventually Parker showed up in the administrative offices and refused to leave until his demands were met. At the end of the day, police were called and, when Parker refused the police requests to leave, he was arrested for trespassing.

Dr. Paul Ash, superintendent of Lexington Public Schools, said the school tried to be accommodating.

“The school department said, ‘Look, we’ll work with you, but we cannot assure you what a child is going to say and that we can immediately stop a discussion that you find objectionable,'” said Ash. “One of the central units in kindergarten is the discussion of families and we show families of all different types.” Ash says the discussions “ended up in an irreconcilable difference.”

In June 2006, the Parkers sued the school in federal court for civil right violations.

They were joined by the Joseph and Robin Wirthlin, parents of a second grader in the same district. On a day in which the school discussed marriage, a teacher read King and King, a book in which a prince doesn’t fall for a princess but for another prince instead. Although marriage laws in Massachusetts include same-sex couples, the Wirthlins believe that such marriages should be excluded from discussion about marriages in the classroom.

A few days after filing their suit, David Parker’s credibility came under question. He spread a story that his child, Jacob, was beaten by students for David Parker’s anti-gay stance and suggested that school teachers or the administration were behind the beating.

After much press in the anti-gay conservative Christian media, the facts were released. It turned out to be nothing greater than a schoolyard scuffle over who sat next to whom in the cafeteria.

In February 2007, U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf dismissed the lawsuit.

In his 38-page decision, Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf of US District Court said that under the US Constitution, public schools are “entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy.”

“Diversity is a hallmark of our nation,” he said.

The Parkers and Wirthlins appealed the decision. Yesterday the three judge appeals panel unanimously upheld Judge Wolf’s decision.

“Public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, particularly when the school imposes no requirement that the student agree with or affirm those ideas, or even participate in discussions about them,” the court said in its ruling.

As we have seen recently, anti-gay activists object not only to any positions taken publicly that are favorable to gay individuals and couples, but to even the acknowledgment of their existence. The court addressed this issue.

Writing for the Appeals Court, Judge Sandra L. Lynch said the parents did not have the legal right “to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which the parents are of different gender combinations,” according to the ADL statement.

The Parkers and their attorneys are preparing to take the case to the US Supreme Court.

Comments

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a. mcewen
February 1st, 2008 | LINK

just wanted to point out that the several blogs and webpages that claimed Parker’s son was attacked for his anti-gay stance DID NOT correct their version of the story when the truth came out.

Also, Parker was fully aware of the truth behind the incident when he allowed the lie to be spread.

quo III
February 2nd, 2008 | LINK

Incidents like this help to make the case that public schools should be abolished.

a. mcewen
February 2nd, 2008 | LINK

not necessarily.

the school acted in an appropriate manner in all respects.

Tom
February 6th, 2008 | LINK

If they want their children to have a religious based education then they should send their children to a private religious school. Not send them to a public school and attempt to demand religious doctrine.

Jason D
April 8th, 2008 | LINK

Gay Marriage is legal in their state. It is a fact of life everywhere, and will only continue to be more and more true as time progresses.

If you don’t have to talk about what Mom & Dad do between the sheets in order to explain a Mom & Dad family — then there’s no reason to get freaked out about telling a kid that sometimes instead of Mom & Dad, it’s Dad and Papi, or Momma Joy and Momma Hope.

It’s like they are fighting for the right to ignore an entire class of people.

nb
August 14th, 2008 | LINK

Jason,

The only reason Gay Marriage is legal in MASS is because a group of judges (not the people) said it was. This is the whole point, politicians and civil “servants” deciding what is good and bad for our culture. Would you have been so quick to defend the establishment if officials decided that church attendance was mandatory as they did in VA in the 1700’s? After all, it was the law.

Hey I have a crazy idea… What if the schools get back to teaching Math and Reading and leave social engineering alone. Their track record is not trending positively. Just take a look at the numbers of assaults, teen pregnancies, gang related activity, teen suicide etc. since the enlightenment of the 1960’s. “If it feels good do it!” – To bad it doesn’t feel good to the ones it is being done to…

Jason D
August 14th, 2008 | LINK

“The only reason Gay Marriage is legal in MASS is because a group of judges (not the people) said it was. ”

Welcome to living in a democratic republic. Public Opinion does not trump basic rights. That’s why we have A consitution. The legislature can put through any law they like, but if it violates the constitution (state or federal) it’s gone, and whatever was prohibited is now legal.

The constitution is there to protect us from public opinion. So no matter how unpopular we are, we still get treated like full citizens. The law in MA violated that basic concept without a compelling state interest, so it was struck down. In the 4 years it’s been legal in MA, the sky hasn’t fallen.

Speaking of the constitution, no I wouldn’t have agreed with Virgina mandatory church attendance — it goes against the first amendment of the constitution(see a pattern?).

Matt Algren
August 14th, 2008 | LINK

nb says “Would you have been so quick to defend the establishment if officials decided that church attendance was mandatory as they did in VA in the 1700’s?”

Well no, because that would clearly be unconstitutional. As would telling all staff members, students, parents, and general layabouts around the school grounds that they can’t mention the fact that some kids in Massachusetts have a home that is led by a same gender couple.

Further, on the people vs judges issue, it was judges who decided that segregation was unconstitutional. That was a good decision too.

Shannon
October 1st, 2008 | LINK

Parents should be allowed a say in what their children are taught in school when regarding social matters. I live in California, and my kids’ school sends home an opt out option when discussing sexual abuse. For me it is not about gay rights or anything else. It is about parenting and the public school system (government) dictating morals to children.
I would find it absolutely unacceptable if the school required attendance of the 5th grade girls when they get their “birds and the bees” talk. I want to be the only one (in conjunction with their dad) to determine when, and how to tell my children sensitive issues.

a. mcewen
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

There was NO birds and the bees talk in this case. Parker was repeatedly told this by the school. The opt-out policy he tried to stake his claim on had to do with sex education (which his son’s class was not taught), not discussing differing families.

I hear a lot of folks talking about parents having the right to have a say in their child’s education. I agree to a point. But not when another family (in this case sam-sex households with children) have to take a backseat.

Timothy Kincaid
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

Shannon,

I share your concern. I agree that parents should be the ones to decide when and how sexuality should be discussed with their children.

However, that isn’t what David Parker demanded. He demanded that there be no mention whatsoever of families that were not heterosexual. He wanted to be notified in advance of any mention of same-sex parents or families.

There are children in that school who have same-sex couples as parents. The school could not enforce the silencing of other children about their own families and found it a ridiculous demand.

Parker wasn’t interested in finding a solution. He was interested in finding something about which he and the school COULD NOT agree so that he could make a political statement and sue the school.

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