Evesham School District in New Jersey said third graders
(usually eight years old) are too young to hear children’s books
featuring same-sex couples. Now, one family in Winnepeg, Canada,
wants to transfer their twelve-year-old seventh grader to another
school because the boy’s teacher has placed a photo of his same-sex
spouse on his (the teacher’s) desk, “and is answering students’
questions about his personal life,” according to a source cited by
Winnepeg Free Press. They add “The family says age 12 is too
young for such classroom discussions.”
Here’s what the division and teachers’ union say:
There are no policies or guidelines on what personal
items a teacher can place on his or her desk, such as photos of
spouses and children, or how much teachers can or should talk about
their personal lives. . . .
Winnipeg Teachers Association president Dave Najduch said teachers
individually decide how much they want to tell their students, or
how little. . . . “Some teachers share a lot of personal
information with students, and they choose to. Some will share
nothing, and they decline to comment,” Najduch said.
Some teachers see discussing their families as part of developing a
bond with their students, he said. Curious students might ask their
teachers if they’re married, if they have children, or where they
Najduch said he’s displayed photos of his wife and kids in his
The administration says it is investigating how much the teacher is
discussing with his students. Based on this article, however, it
seems to be generally supportive of diversity and has even promoted
anti-homophobia education within the division.
What irks me is
the media again ignores the point that discussing same-sex
families in the classroom is not just a matter of some adult with
supposedly nefarious intent foisting knowledge of “homosexuality”
on innocent children. The 2000
U.S. Census showed that 96 percent of all U.S. counties have at
least one same-sex couple with children under 18 (not to mention
all the children of LGBT single parents). I don’t have statistics
for Canada (leave a comment if you do), but I have to imagine they
are similar. These children will likely mention their two moms or
their two dads to classmates in the course of normal conversations,
not to mention “what I did on my summer vacation” essays.
Investigate a teacher for showing a photo of his partner and
perhaps explaining who he is, and you’re only one step away from
investigating a child for bringing in a photo of his two dads. What
message would that send to the child?
School officials, despite their seeming support for equality, are
still looking into the situation, not quite willing to drop the
idea that to talk about a same-sex partner inevitably means talking
about sex. What boggles the mind even more is that this is Canada
we’re speaking about here, where same-sex marriage is as legal as
owning a pair of hockey skates. Still the old mindsets linger.
A cautionary tale—which can be added to those from
Evesham, New Jersey and
Lexington, Massachusetts—for those who think winning legal
rights means our struggle has ended.
(Crossposted with slight variation on
Mombian. Thanks for the original link,
To Form a More Perfect Union.)