David and Tonia Parker of Lexington, Mass., saw a red flag when their son came home from kindergarten last January with a “diversity book bag” that included Who’s in a Family, a book promoting acceptance of gay marriage. The Parkers thought it was their right, as parents, to decide when and how to introduce their son to the issue of homosexuality. The Parkers believed the public school, Estabrook, is right to be teaching tolerance of gays but wrong in raising the subject in kindergarten and then indoctrinating 5-year-olds on gay marriage. Tonia Parker says gay parents are allowed to come into class and read their material to a captive audience of the very young.
The Parkers did not attack the “diversity book bag” program. They requested notification of any future school discussions of homosexuality so they could have their son opt out. They pointed to a state law defending the opt-out right of parents. The school argued that the law pertained to sex education, not discussion of family forms. In a series of E-mails, the school agreed to a meeting, where the Parkers thought an accommodation would be offered. When the school took a hard-nosed stance instead, David Parker refused to leave school property. He was arrested, led off to jail in handcuffs, then allowed out on bail. His trial for trespassing has been delayed for months. A restraining order, still in effect, bans him from the school and its grounds. He cannot attend meetings of the school committee or pick up his son after class. He cannot even vote, since the school is his voting site. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said the school is on sound legal ground (no surprise there), arguing that “public education would grind to a halt if parents had the right to demand classes tailored to each child based on the parent’s moral views.”