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19th-Mar-2004 08:00 am
Gay Kids' Book Causes Storm

(Wilmington, North Carolina)
A popular children's book is under fire in a North Carolina school district and the parents of one child say they may put their child in another school system to keep her from hearing about gays.

The flap began when a first grader brought home the book "King & King" from the school library. The book, aimed at students from 6 years of age, is fairy tale about a prince whose true love turns out to be another prince.

Michael Hartsell said he and his wife, Tonya, say they could not believe that the Wilmington school district would permit children to read material "about homosexuality".

In the book, by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland, Prince Bertie searches for love through a bevy of eligible princes before falling for Prince Lee. The 32 page book ends with the two princes sharing a kiss.

"I was flabbergasted," Michael Hartsell said. "My child is not old enough to understand something like that, especially when it is not in our beliefs."

The book has been on the shelf in the library at Freeman Elementary School since early last year, and the school has ordered a sequel, "King & King & Family".

"What might be inappropriate for one family, in another family is a totally acceptable thing," said Elizabeth Miars, Freeman's principal.

The Hartsells said they are keeping the book until they get assurances it won't be circulated. But Miars said all county schools have a committee that reviews books after their appropriateness is questioned, and the Hartsells must make a written complaint and return the book for review.

The Hartsells said they intend to file such a complaint and are considering transferring their daughter.


I personally think that ALL of us need to send a letter to Principal Miars applauding her on her stance on this issue:

Elizabeth Miars
c/o Rachel Freeman Elementary School
2601 Princess Place Dr
Wilmington, NC 28405-3005

THEN fire off a letter to:

Michael and Tonya Hartsell
3614 Broken Limb Ct
Wilmington, NC 28405-8801

Explain to the Hartsells that "not believing in gays" is the equivalent of not believing in cars or the atmosphere. Explain that this book is a tool to teach children that there are many different kinds of families and many different kinds of relationships, and that diversity is one of the things that makes us American citizens - even though some things may be inconsistent with their own superior sense of morality. Explain that your children (or any furute children you might have) will be as well informed about the different aspects of society as is possible, and that love is love.

Do this, and I promise I'll do something nice for you first chance I get. Maybe even an LJ layout, you never know. If you're going to send a letter to either party, please post its contents as a reply here for all to see and get ideas from, I'll post mine and Maggie's later in the day.
19th-Mar-2004 06:28 am (UTC)
I plan to write these letters. It's a really good idea. Just might take me a couple of days to get it done. Stay on my back about it, please. :-)

19th-Mar-2004 06:36 am (UTC) - here's mine to the parents:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hartsell:

I want to say that I am proud of you for teaching your children the things that you believe in. It is something that many parents don't do these days. However, I must admit that I was something akin to confused when I read the article about the book your child brought home, and your reaction to it.

While I realize that your beliefs about homosexuality are different than mine in as far as it being right or wrong, nevertheless it does exist. It exists in the same manner as the local McDonald's exists - it's there, everyone can see it, but not everyone goes there. I support your right to believe what you wish as far as right or wrong. However, if your daughter is old enough to understand that Mommy and Daddy love each other, then she is old enough to understand that there ARE families that consist of Mommy and Mommy, or Daddy and Daddy. If you don't believe that homosexuality is right, that is your prerogative. You have every right to uphold it or deny it. However, your child needs to understand that while you don't believe in it, she has the option of doing either. Would you rather your child be one of love and compassion, or one who hates, based solely on your particular biases? It is her right, even as a child, to believe what she wants to believe. The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, even the Easter Bunny. Does she believe in any of these? I find that a bit disconcerting if so, because none of those three can you actually SEE, and FEEL, and HEAR. A gay man or woman is actually there, right in front of you. On TV, in movies, in books, in REAL LIFE.

I am not asking that you change your mind about the gay community. That would be wrong of me. But I do ask that you teach your child both sides of the story. And then let her decide. As so many people are divided on evolution and creation, there are that many if not more people divided on the moral right or wrong of homosexuality. But it is everyone's choice. Trust your child to make her own decisions. Because one day she'll be forced to.

Thank you for your time,

Cheryl Golden
19th-Mar-2004 07:14 am (UTC)
ditto to dg, i'll be a couple days on this too. that's pretty astounding. will post my reply as i write it.
19th-Mar-2004 07:25 am (UTC)
Will do. I will post mine when they are ready.
20th-Mar-2004 06:23 pm (UTC)
"the parents of one child say they may put their child in another school system to keep her from hearing about gays."

What are they going to do to the kid? Lock him in a box with no TV or newspapers or magazines? I swear, some people can just be so ignorant. I wish they would just get over it, already.
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