A mother offended that her daughter’s second-grade teacher introduced a book on gay rights says she’s not a “Bible-thumping” homophobic Christian.
The girl’s teacher had shown the class a book called Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and The Rainbow Flag, about the creation of the gay pride flag in 1978 and the work of Harvey Milk, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and California’s first openly gay elected official.
Burleson, 37, wasn’t uncomfortable with the topic of same-sex relationships — but the book’s illustrations of Milk facing protestors holding signs that stated, “God says no” and “Gays must go” opened up “Pandora’s Box” at home.
“There’s a level of maturity and comprehension involved in a conversation about sexuality — straight or gay — and the content isn’t age-appropriate,” Burleson, of Ashland, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
The pictures made Burleson’s daughter question her Christian faith. “I’ve spent days telling my daughter that God doesn’t hate anyone for their sexual orientation,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “In an attempt to teach children about civil rights, the school planted seeds of hate.”
The mom watched a video about the book on YouTube and emailed her daughter’s teacher, who replied that it was used in a civil rights lesson. Burleson says the principal apologized over the phone and said the teacher used poor judgment.
Burleson stands by the Bible’s teachings and also does not discriminate — last week, she enjoyed a “Drag queen brunch” at a gay bar, she says, and she discourages using religion as an excuse to hate. “But now, my daughter is pointing to random people in Walmart and asking if they’re gay,” Burleson tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I tell her, ‘People are different and God doesn’t make mistakes.'”
Hanover County Public Schools shared a March 29th letter with Yahoo Lifestyle from Principal Terri Keck. “I wanted to make you aware that a book, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, was used during whole group instruction in your child’s class last week,” Keck wrote to parents. “Hanover County School Board Policy…recognizes the importance of partnership between school and home when controversial or sensitive topics are introduced in the classroom. In this case, the book, which tells the story of the rainbow flag becoming a symbol for equality for the LGBT community, was not vetted through the appropriate process at our school. It is also not an approved part of our curriculum. Additionally, we did not communicate with you in advance of this book being used in the classroom during instruction as outlined in the above policies…”
Keck wrote, “We value our relationships with our families and always want to give you the opportunity to be engaged with your child’s learning experience, and I sincerely apologize for this unintended oversight…”
Burleson plans to ask the school board to require parental approval of controversial topics. “If the teacher introduced a book on the history of heterosexual marriage, that could also offend non-religious or anti-marriage people,” Burleson tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Those topics should be discussed at home.”
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