A North Carolina teacher faces the ire of some parents after giving a lesson on homosexuality to a group of third graders. Now, the teacher says he will resign at the end of the year.
The incident began when Omar Currie, a 25-year-old openly gay teacher, read the book in an Efland-Cheeks Elementary School classroom in Efland, North Carolina. This was a response to one boy calling another boy a girl and “the term gay was used in a derogatory way,” according to Currie.
“We talked about how the moral of the book was just you accept others the way they are,” Currie told ABC11. “Some of the kids said the book made them feel a little uncomfortable, and I told them that was fine.”
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The book in question is called "King & King," and tells the story of a prince marrying another prince. Assistant Principal Meg Goodhand gave the fable to Currie after he requested it.
Many of the concerned parents are angry due to the fact that they were not told beforehand what was being read to their child.
“They keep religion out of school,” Frederick McAdoo, resident of Efland, told ABC11. “Let’s be careful what else we want to enter into school.”
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“It’s just too young,” McAdoo added. “We shouldn’t have to go through this.”
“This is something that should be taught by parents or at least the parents be aware what is being taught to their kids,” parent Mary Palmatier told the news station.
Other parents, however, supported Currie's lesson plan.
"It dealt openly and very sensitively with two men getting married ... We have to be accepting of different lifestyles," Matthew Roberts, who has had two sons taught by Currie, told The News & Observer. "As America has evolved, what used to be inappropriate is not inappropriate anymore."
Three complaints have since been filed in regards to the incident, according to Orange County Schools spokesman Seth Stephens.
In response to one formal complaint, a public meeting was held on May 6, with roughly 30 people in attendance. A second public meeting is planned on Friday to address the other two complaints.
On Wednesday, a school committee ruled to uphold the use of the book, but with two stipulations. The first requirement states that teachers have to inform parents of all the books to be read in class that year, which would be roughly 500 books, according to Currie. The second requirement says that teachers must fill out a form for each bullying incident.
One parent — who did not have a child in Currie’s class — appeared at the school to protest the incident.
He later left but carried a protest sign along a nearby road.
Currie plans to resign from his position in the wake of the controversy, citing a lack of support from the principal and school district. According to ABC11, the decision to leave his students was a sad one, but he is ultimately more disappointed by the district.
"There are staff members who obviously disagree with the fact that I read the book and they made that very clear," Currie said.
"Our first and No. 1 job is to keep students safe. I'm not sure we can keep students safe when we are picking and choosing the families we represent in our school," Currie told The News & Observer, adding that many students at the elementary school have two moms or two dads.
"I figured there might be one or two families that might object to the content," Currie stated. "But I thought we would have a conversation about it."
Principal Kiley Brown said that she was not told of the decision to read the book. She believes that parents should have been told beforehand.
"We are dealing with this matter and following policy as best we can in light of the situation and I think this will be a huge learning experience for our staff and our community," Brown said to reporters. "I think that letting parents know and be key aspects of the educational process is huge."
The public meeting regarding the other two complaints will be held in the school library on Friday at 5:30 p.m.