(CNSNews.com)— A public school district in North Carolina is allowing the use of a controversial fairy tale about gay marriage to be read in its elementary schools despite widespread community opposition.
Omar Currie, a former 3rd grade teacher at Efland-Cheeks Elementary School, read King & King - a book about two gay “princes” who fall in love and get married - to his third grade students in April after he said one student teased another by calling him “gay” in gym class.
Currie resigned this week after the parents of three students filed written complaints to the school media review committee. Meg Goodhand, the assistant principal at the school who loaned Currie her copy of the book to read to his third grade class, also resigned.
However, after several heated public debates attended by hundreds of people - in which Orange County sheriffs were on hand to keep the peace - the school review committee upheld the use of the book.
Two parents appealed the committee’s decision not to ban the book to the Orange County school superintendent. But a meeting scheduled for Thursday night, which was expected to draw hundreds of attendees, was cancelled early Thursday morning.
A spokesman for the school district said that the appeals were withdrawn for unknown reasons, and that the school’s decision to allow the book to be read to elementary school students will stand.
However, the school’s principal created a new protocol that teachers must submit a list of books they intend to read in class to parents in advance.
Currie objected to the new policy. "This egregious policy creates an undue burden on teachers, and it hurts students," he said at one of the public meetings. "Here in Orange County, I repeatedly heard from school officials that the book might have been appropriate to read in a more progressive area without parental consent, but in Efland we need time."
This is not the first time King and King has caused controversy. In 2006, parents in Massachusetts sued their school district after the book was read in class. A judge dismissed the lawsuit.
“I was told that it’s controversial, which means all LGBTQ families are controversial,” Currie said in an interview with The Raleigh News & Observer. “How insulting it is for those families.”
Alhough he was not disciplined for reading the book in class, Currie told the Associated Press that after discussing the issue with his same-sex partner, he decided he could not stay at a school where he felt unsupported. Since resigning, he has interviewed for five teaching jobs, including one with the Durham Public Schools.
Dozens of parents and community members on both sides let their opinions be known at the public meetings.
“(You're) infiltrating young minds, indoctrinating children into a gay agenda and actively promoting homosexuality to steer our children in that direction,” one reportedly said.
But a Currie supporter said: “I appreciate the fact that the teacher was willing to address this issue and was willing to approach this topic in his classroom.”