A school board in Erie, Ill., is sending ripple effects nationwide after daring to listen to local parents rather than yielding to pressure from national gay activist groups.
Responding to parental concerns, the board of Erie Community Unit School District 1 voted 5-2 not to use materials from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in its elementary school, which goes from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade.
Now GLSEN and liberal media outlets are trying to pressure the school board to reverse course.
“[We asked the School Board to reconsider,” GLSEN said on its website. “Unfortunately, the school board won’t budge. So now we need your help.”
But local parents have a different perspective.
The controversy began when a news flyer unveiled plans to introduce GLSEN’s new elementary-level “toolkit” called “Ready, Set, Respect!” The kit encourages teachers to “invite students” as young as kindergarten to “draw pictures of favorite TV or storybook characters and dress them in clothes that are different … from what they would typically wear,” such as “Cinderella in a knight’s armor” or “Spiderman wearing a magic tiara.”
It also suggests teachers incorporate examples of homosexual relationships into classroom activities, such as writing math problems including “a variety of family structures and gender-expressions. For example, ‘Rosa and her dads were at the store and wanted to buy three boxes of pasta…’ ”
The kit encourages educators to use storybooks that familiarize young children with same-sex marriage and transgender or cross-dressing behaviors. Suggested books include Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, which features two male guinea pigs who get married.
When parents objected, the school board voted to remove the materials.
“Many parents contacted me. That’s kind of how I got involved,” explained Aaron Sweeney, a youth minister at Erie Christian Church. “The parents want the right to choose [how] to talk to their kids about sexual issues. They want to hold on to that right.”
One book specifically at issue, also recommended in the toolkit, is The Family Book, geared for kids in prekindergarten through second grade, which promotes same-sex relationships. This raised both religious-freedom and parental-rights issues for Ann Schipper, a mom with three kids in the district, including a 9-year-old daughter.
“It takes away completely the sanctity of marriage. God has designed that,” she said. So “to say that some have two moms and two dads, that completely wipes away what my kids have learned at church and at home, and it creates confusion in them.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read about GLSEN’s “Ready, Set, Respect” kit.
Learn how to respond to homosexual activism in schools in a winsome, fact-based way.