Monday, May 02, 2005

Bigotry and hypocrisy

In Lexington, Massachusetts, last week, a father disguising his bigotry as parenting was arrested for tresspassing at the Estabrook Elementary School where he was confronting school officials about the book "Who's In A Family?"

David Parker said he wants to be informed every time a book will refer to same-sex couples because he should be the one to teach his son about homosexuality. Herein lies the problem and spiritual challenge.

I agree with Mr. Parker that schools should not be teaching 6-year-olds about sexuality. However, this book does not teach about sexuality at all. It teaches that many families look different from our own. Mr. Parker is wrong, and the school is correct.

The Lexington school is not teaching children about homosexuality, any more than they are teaching about heterosexuality or celibacy. The kids are reading a book that shows many different ways a family looks.

I wonder if the book shows families where one parent is imprisoned on drug offenses? I'll bet not, because even liberals don't want to discuss the impact of our draconian drug laws on American families.

I remember the controversy in a Boston-area school in the early 1970s when a reading book showed a mixed-race family. White parents (i.e., not all white parents, just the bigots) were infuriated that the school would teach their children about interracial marriages. Of course, the school wasn't teaching about interracial marriages, it was teaching that many families look different. Those parents were forced to take their bigotry back where it belonged: in their home.

Many families look different. It is a lesson to learn. My family looks differently from another family in our neighborhood. Both families are Caucasian. There is a mother and father and child living together in each apartment. On the outside we look very similar; but our families are very different.

They are conservative, we are liberal. The families have different values. We think the mother should stay home to raise the child even though it stalls our financial growth, because we think it is more important to nurture the child than acquire wealth. They want more money, so they send their child to a daycare center where it is nurtured by strangers and they hope to acquire more money and be more comfortable. We expose our child to people of many different races, beliefs, nationalities, political persuasions, and orientations (including Republicans and heterosexuals) because we think it will provide our child with a well-rounded life experience. The other family seeks out people similar to them, who share their beliefs, and they think their child will have a better life experience for it.

Neither decision is right or wrong, they are just different. I don't condemn them, and they do not condemn me to my face.

What bothers me is when the issues are confused by an individual to get their own way. This man in Lexington says the school is teaching about sexuality, but it isn't. From what I've read, this man seems to be uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality; which he extends to isolating the children of homosexuals and pretending their family structure is not as valid as his.

Mr. Parker seems to think his lifestyle is acceptable and one different from his is not. If Mr. Parker wants to ban books that show different types of families, then all children should be taught about him and how dangerous he is!

Mr. Parker and his allies in the wrong-wing, want to say that bigotry is acceptable, marginalization of those different from them is acceptable, and anyone who doesn't agree with them is an intolerant liberal bigot. Period. End of conversation. There is no debate. They are right and their detractors are wrong.

The truth is, though, that they are the bigots. And they need our sympathy and love as we work to stop them from destroying our nation any further.

I hope the media continues to expose men like Mr. Parker. Give them the spotlight, because the more Americans see their intolerance and hatred, the more likely America is to return to a time of growth, acceptance, world leadership, and prosperity.

As long as these bigots pretend that the liberals are the bigots and close-mindedness is better than acceptance, America will continue to go down the tubes and remain the second-rate, bully nation the corporate evangelists have made us.

Help stop the hatred. Take action! Speak out!

Thanks to Karen for keeping me posted about this! See her more in-depth report here.

If you would like to write a letter of support to the school refusing to cave-in to Mr. Parker's corporate fundamentalist agenda:

Estabrook Elementary
Joni Jay, Principal
117 Grove Street
Lexington, MA 02420
(781) 861-2520

Dick Mac Recommends:

Who's in a Family?
Robert Skutch


Liz said...

Morning DM!

This is all very reminiscent of a law brought in by the Tories in the late 80s in England called Section 28. It was brought in to 'prevent the promotion of homosexuality in schools'. There was an outrage and it took years to get the law repealed but it was done. Parents here trust schools to teach their kids and generally don't mind if all choices in the home are brought into lessons. That man is an idiot. Sadly there are a lot of them about...

L xo

DM said...

Thanks, Liz! American corporate fundmantalists (currently apssing themselves off as conservatives) are destroying our schools with their lies about sexuality and diversity. The American right-wing is driving America into the ground and it is sad to watch.

jane said...

Unfortunately even in the UK there is a tacit consensus in many schools that it is best to assume heterosexuality when teaching about families and relationships. Sometimes religious and cultural diversity are even brought into the argument as a justification for this heteronormativity, on the grounds that unspecified (and implicitly 'backward') cultural and religious 'others' demand it. I shall be in NYC this week so I'll be interested to follow the debate a bit and look for some gay-affirmative kids' books, always a bit thin on the ground...


DM said...

Jane will be in New York? What a coincidence: so will I!