For those of you who have seen the commercials about the family whose second grade son had the book Two Princes read to him in class, I spoke to his father today and got his account of the full story. He is *Elder Wirthlin's grandson and lives in Massachusetts. I will try to go through his story as he related it to me today as best I can. He had some interesting insights as well.
He is a member of the armed forces and as such has to move frequently. When they recently moved to Mass, they looked into an area with good schools. They found a district that was highly rated with test scores and that's where they moved. It was to Lexington, Mass. Soon after they moved, they learned that the school had something called the "Anti-Bias Committee." He and his wife thought that it sounded like something good and wanted to be a part of it. They soon realized that it was meant as a way to push alternative lifestyles into the elementary schools.
The committee decided to have a panel discussion called "Is your family like mine?" The idea was to go through all the different types of families and explain and highlight each one. They were going to talk about single parent families, multi racial families, divorced families, families with gay or lesbian parents, etc. Rob's wife realized there was no panel for families with a traditional husband and wife and asked why. The panel said they didn't know anyone who would be the example for the panel. She said she would do it.
The group then was discussing what questions to ask on their panel to help keep the conversation going. Rob's wife suggested they ask each different family "What do the parents do to strengthen their family?" Everyone was offended and didn't understand why she would ask such a question or how to respond.
Time passed and they both got busy with things going on with their careers. They had a baby and one of their parents passed away. One day their seven year old son who was in second grade at the time came home and told them about a book they had read in school that day about two princes who got married. They said the book made quite an impression on their son even though it had only been read once because he was able to quote lines from the story to his parents. The parents knew the teacher and the teacher was aware of their more conservative beliefs. The mom was upset because she had been at school that same day and the teacher didn't mention anything to her about the book. They thought maybe their son was confused and followed up with the teacher who confirmed the story.
They decided to check out the book themselves and saw that the queen had told the princes that she would have already been married twice by his age and that she brought over all different types of princesses for him to choose from. Each one had some different unappealing physical characteristics for the prince until he saw one of the princess' brother whom he immediately fell in love with and got married to. The story ends with a picture of the two princes kissing with a heart over their lips.
The parents decided to set up an appointment to discuss this with the principal and teacher. The teacher admitted that the book wasn't part of the curriculum but said she read it to help the children learn to enjoy reading more because it was a light read. Rob asked why the teacher would waste time teaching this during school hours when it wasn't a part of the curriculum. She said she was teaching a common thing about marriage and families to the students and wanted one book that wouldn't be so mushy and girly so the boys in the class would have something to relate to. The principal asked why they would object to a book being taught about families. In Rob's opinion the book showed gay marriage as preferable to traditional marriage and also he didn't understand why they would feel the need to teach anything at all in the school about any kind of marriage. They asked if they could be notified in advance of any future cases where they would be discussing this in school. The principal handed them a letter from the superintendent stating that the opt-out rule in Mass was only being applied to cases where there would be teaching of an explicitly sexual nature, and that it would not be applied to teaching about family structure of any kind. The principal refused to give them prior or post notice of any future discussions.
At this point the principal said they needed to speak with the superintendent about it even though it was not part of the curriculum for the district. By this time the media got wind of it and started interviewing his wife, etc. The superintendent said there would be no accommodation made for them. Rob thought this was crazy because they get notice for so many other things; field trips, biology, math, spelling, but not this. He said he only wanted to be notified when an adult would be talking about gay marriage. They said no.
They decided to file a lawsuit with another family. Because the Mass State constitution says that parents are responsible for the moral upbringing of their children the District court rules against them and said the schools must teach before the children can make up their own mind. The First Circuit Court of appeals denied them in a 43 page report in which they stated that the sole purpose was to change people's minds about gay marriage. The Mass Supreme court turned it down as well. The scary thing is that now other states can turn to this as precedent for case law in their own states. He recommended to anyone to read the appeals court decision because of the language in it and their justification that will be used by other states deciding the same issues.
He summarized up with saying that the same arguments that are being made by the No on 8 campaign now were the arguments made several years ago in Mass. They said it was a Civil Rights issue and that it only affected the two people who were involved. He said he thought within weeks if Prop 8 doesn't pass there will be similar things implemented in California.
On a side note, they were shunned by the community. He said his wife would be walking down the street and people would cross the street to walk on the other side. They were totally isolated from everyone else. He said the other family's son who was six years old was beat up in school and the school did nothing about it until a year later when the same bully started intimidating their other younger son.
One thing I'll just add that I thought was significant was that he said they are pushing so hard to get this taught at such a young age because children are not able to discern right from wrong before the age of 8 to 10. This hit home to me because we know that children under the age of 8 do not have accountability. They are trying to plant this seed in kids before their brain can reject it so that later in life it will always be there. He also mentioned that the high schools in the district have a common practice of telling adolescents during their confused years if they are upset or depressed that maybe it's because they are gay or lesbian. Now in Mass from pre-K to fifth grade they must learn the correct definition of gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. They use the guise that it's about families and marriage because they have gay marriage. He said anyone who thinks this is not going to affect them is naive.
I'm sure I may have made mistakes of his portrayals to me. I did the best I could do based on my ability to write notes while he was talking to me but I want everyone to realize that I may have made mistakes in the transcription.
*Elder Withlin is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the LDS church.