Lexington Parents Sue Over King & King

On April 28, 2006, two sets of Lexington, Massachusetts parents filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Boston because a teacher read the book King & King to students in a second grade classroom at Joseph Estabrook Elementary School. Rob and Robin Wirthlin and David and Tania Parker allege that the reading of the book, a fairytale about a prince who marries a prince, without notifying parents in advance, broke the law and violated their civil rights. The statute known as Section 32A states:

“Every city, town, regional school district or vocational school district implementing or maintaining curriculum which primarily involves human sexual education or human sexual issues shall adopt a policy insuring parental/guardian notification. Such policy shall afford parents or guardians the flexibility to exempt their children from any portion of said curriculum through written notification to the school principal.”

—Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 71, Section 32A.

School Superintendent Paul Ash stated that the Lexington school system has implemented a policy that complies with Section 32A but that curriculum identified by this statute does not generally begin until the 5th grade level. He also maintains that the Massachusetts Department of Education considers the statute not applicable to any activity or material designed to promote tolerance and respect including difference in sexual orientation when sexual implications are not discussed.

Last year, David Parker was arrested when he refused to leave the school grounds, demanding that his son be excused from classroom discussions about same gender parents. His son, then in kindergarten, had brought home a “diversity book bag” that included Who’s In a Family?, a book that shows many types of families including same sex parents.

Principal Joni Jay was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying, “I think it’s right to have books … that reflect the children in our school.”

King & King was written by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland and published by Tricycle Press, publishers of Who’s In a Family?

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