|Back to Nov. Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 238||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||NOVEMBER 2005|
|Charges Against Massachusetts Parent Dropped|
Parker is the Lexington, Massachusetts parent who was arrested and charged in April after insisting to school district officials that under Chapter 71, Section 32 A of Massachusetts state law he had a right to be notified in advance of issues regarding human sexuality curriculum, and receive an opportunity to opt out of any discussion of homosexuality instruction for his kindergarten son. He refused to leave the school meeting unless district officials provided assurance that his request would be honored. Parker was charged with criminal trespassing, handcuffed, jailed overnight, and banned from school sites. He has steadfastly maintained that no crime was committed.
David Parker and his wife, Tonia, objected to the book Who's in a Family? It was included in a "Diversity Book Bag" that their kindergarten son brought home from school. The book by Robert Skutch illustrates same sex couples and contains descriptions about them, such as "Robin's family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad's partner, Henry, and Robin's cat, Sassy." It is listed on the book list published by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
The Superintendent of Schools, Paul Ash, announced in September that he had ordered all teachers not to notify parents in advance when discussing homosexual relationships because they are teaching about diversity and citizenship. According to Ash, "You're either a full-time student or you're not a student." He is determined to advance what he views as tolerance education, and make certain that the public school system is in charge: "Parents can't pick and choose what they want their kids to study." (Los Angeles Times, 10-20-05)
Gary Wambolt, of Lexington Parents for Respect, characterizes what is occurring as an "attack on values." He has stated that his organization considers the school district curriculum and methods "an arrogant intrusion into the privacy of family values and parental rights." He claims that it is also "a colossal misuse of instructional time and resources."
Under the deal accepted by the court, Parker will be under pretrial probation for a year during which time he will not be allowed on school property, after which the trespassing charge will be dropped so long as he does not violate any laws. The school has not retreated from its position that it has the right to overrule the parents about what is taught to the children.