When a kindergarten boy brought home a children’s book touting the joys of being in a lesbian family, his parents complained to Windridge Elementary School, sparking a petition signed by 25 parents in protest.
The book, “In Our Mothers’ House,” is marketed on Amazon as a book for children “ages 6 and up.”
It touches on the alleged joys of being in a homosexual relationship and what the author believes is society’s condemnation of it.
In April, the Davis School District committee in Kaysville, Utah, voted 6-1 to keep the book in its school libraries – as long as it was kept behind the counter and provided only to children who received parental permission to check it out.
Now the American Civil Liberties Union is getting involved – threatening the district for requiring parental consent.
In the book, a resident in a Berkley, Calif., neighborhood is depicted as a constantly scowling woman who wears a pink bow in her hair. She disapproves of the neighboring family’s lesbian relationship and won’t let her children play with them.
She tells the lesbian couple, “I don’t appreciate what you two are!”
The lesbians, Meema and Marmee, comfort their children.
“She’s full of fear, sweetie,” Meema tells them. “She’s afraid of what she can’t understand: She doesn’t understand us.”
Many years later, when Meema and Marmee have passed away, their children lay them to rest “where they pledged their love to each other so many years ago.”
In a June 12 letter to the Davis School District superintendent, ACLU of Utah legal director John Mejia blasted the district’s parental consent policy, saying it had “serious concerns about whether these actions comport with the First Amendment rights of the students in the district.”
In the letter, Mejia claimed “it would be a stretch to say that it ‘advocates homosexuality.’”
In an interview about her book, “In Our Mothers’ House” author Patricia Polacco said, “Instead of tolerance, I think children should be taught to celebrate difference. I think if they are not equipped to get out in the world and realize the vast difference in human beings and their lifestyles and their religions and their skin colors and all of the above, they’re almost doomed to be quite unable to understand the world around them. … Until we learn to honor and respect what other people believe, I think we are doomed.”
Even Polacco said she has a problem with kindergarteners reading the lesbian book – but not for the reasons some parents have objected to it.
“Now, I’ve got to tell you: ‘In Our Mothers House,’ I don’t think is for a kindergartener. I think the mother had every right to do that,” she said.
However, she added, “not because of the content, but because of the difficulty of the words that are used in here. A 5 year old is not going to be able to plow through this book. So, I think, as parents, and I’m a parent myself, we all have the right to protect our children against something that we feel in some way is going to harm them.”
Polacco noted, “What I did take exception to was this mother – who had the right to have this book kept from her child – decided to take it upon herself within that school, and then the entire district, to see that YOUR child couldn’t read the book, either. That’s where I think our First Amendment rights are getting trounced.”
However, as previously noted, the book has not been removed from the school libraries. Children are simply required to obtain parental consent before checking it out.
Just last week, the Alliance Defense Fund sent a letter in defense of the school’s policy and noted that children are not prohibited from reading the book if they have permission from their parents.
“Parents have the ‘fundamental right’ to ‘direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.’ The district is right to leave such decisions to them,” the ADF letter states. “It is ‘established beyond debate’ that ‘parents have the primary role … in the upbringing of their children.’”
ADF legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco said in a statement, “Public schools should not surrender to ACLU intimidation when it asks them to expose children to sexual content without parental knowledge. The law clearly upholds the right and duty of schools to protect children and respect the role of their parents.”
However, Polacco is still defending the themes in her book, saying, “This book, what it’s about isn’t a lifestyle. It’s told from the perspective of these three children when they’re adults and their mothers have passed away. And it’s a book that’s a tribute to the love and the understanding and being honored by these women during their lifetimes. It’s not espousing a particular type of lifestyle. It’s simply, as all authors do, telling you a story and asking you to consider any household where children are honored and loved. I don’t care what color the parents are. I don’t care if it’s a giraffe and a fish living together. If they’re raising children who believe they’re honored and loved, that’s all that’s important.”
She concluded, “My worry is, if this is challenged – not this book, but just generally – authors soon will be told what they can write about and what they can’t. My family came from Russia, and that’s what happened there. And this happened in Nazi Germany. This is how it all begins. So, it’s very serious.