You know, Barbara Curtis* (Mommy Life) just said something I really agree with:
I’m wondering if a picture book about a boy who wanted to grow up to be a priest – maybe based on a true story – would be acceptable on public school library shelves? Or how about a story of a girl who one day got off the bus crying because two boys – one from a fiercely atheist home – had called her “pea-brain” and “stupid” because she is a Christian? This really happened to my daughter Maddy a couple years ago (the only time she ever came home without a smile on her consistently happy face).
The point is that all children will encounter opposition at some point in their lives – they are too fat, too skinny, too smart, too dumb, too clumsy, too shy. Their house is too small, their car too old, their parents too weird. Maybe their parents are two dads or two moms. You know, I don’t think in the world of little children these things really matter all that much.
The early years are the years for building up character, compassion and kindness so that when these issues come up our kids will respond in the right way. They would not bully someone for being homosexual or having homosexual parents because they do not bully, period.
First of all, I very much think that the two hypothetical books she mentions here should be be included in library collections, just as I think And Tango Makes Three should be included. And bullying for any reason, like what happened to her daughter, should be absolutely unacceptable in our schools and elsewhere in our community. We are the adults, and we need to make this clear to our children. Part of doing that is to show that we, the adults, accept all kinds of people ourselves.
It’s too bad, then, that her conclusion is based on such a false assumption as this:
When a group – many with no children in the public schools – dress up in black and white to defend a book about Penguins, you know it’s about more than penguins.
It’s probably not really her fault that she thinks this (even though many of our GLBT members do have children in our public schools, we’ll set that aside for now), because our local media has been reporting things like this: “Equality Loudoun is encouraging people to attend the meeting wearing black and white.”
This is technically true – we have been sharing with our members and supporters what has been shared with us by other people who have contacted us on their own. These are, as far as I can tell, people who saw our organization mentioned in news accounts of this issue and found us online. They are overwhelmingly people who are not particularly political, and not affiliated with any group. They are also almost all parents, in particular parents who are actively involved in their children’s schools.
So to say that “a group” is planning to attend tonight’s meeting, of which “many” have no children in the public schools, is not really quite…let’s just say “comprehensive in its truthiness.”
As I said, I think Barbara probably has good reason to see things the way she does. Individual parents who are upset by the decision to remove the book don’t have websites; we do. The media is always drawn to framing things as a showdown between advocacy groups. Everything fits into a tidy narrative that way.
And Barbara asks a very good question in another post, which is “why is David the go-to guy” for reporters when they write about issues like this? That may seem like an easy question to answer; after all, Equality Loudoun is the local GLBT community group, and the complaining parent specifically said that what she dislikes about the book is its positive portrayal of a family with two daddies. Of course the reporters called us.
But now, I think it’s quite appropriate to insist that this is not really a gay issue. The issue here is whether a single point of view can be privileged in the public school libraries that many different kinds of families use. Frankly, the answer is no. In my very first post about this issue, I raised this question: What’s next? If a parent can have the idea that a loving family can have two mommies or two daddies removed, what idea is next on the list? That is still the question, and it should concern us all.