Omar Currie said he read his students the book “King and King,” a fairy tale about two princes having a “love” encounter, after he perceived negative gay stereotyping in his class.
Currie said that he was inspired to teach the little kids about two men “hooking up” because a boy in his class acted a little feminine.
“When I read the story, the reaction of parents didn’t come into my mind,” Currie, 25, said Tuesday.
“In that moment, it just seemed natural to me to read the book and have a conversation about treating people with respect. My focus then was on the child, and helping the child.”
The thought that the child just acted feminine could have just stayed as it is. A thought. Some kids act different than others. But this teacher overstepped his bounds and pushed an idea into the under-aged child’s mind. Some could call it “turning out” the child and other impressionable children in the class.
Currie claimed his reasons for reading the book was because he knew what it is like to be bullied.
Growing up gay and black in a small town in the eastern part of the state, his memories of middle school are of being a frequent target for teasing and slurs.
Within hours after reading the book to his students, Currie said he got a call from the school’s principal requesting a meeting in her office for the following morning.
The parents of three children soon filed written complaints to a school review committee, which twice upheld the use of the book after heated public meetings.
But the school’s principal also issued a new directive that teachers must submit an advance list of all books they intend to read with students to their parents.
Currie has resigned from Efland-Cheeks Elementary School “because he felt administrators did not support his decision to influence little impressionable children” with homosexual propaganda.
Parents felt their children should be learning more important things like math, reading, and writing.
The school’s assistant principal, Meg Goodhand, who lent Currie the copy of the book he read to his class, has also submitted a letter of resignation.
Currie also said he was “intimidated” by some school administrators because they didn’t agree with his decision, and was asked not to speak to the press about the furor over the book.
Currie said, “I felt they were trying to silence the conversation.”
“King & King” tells the story of a crown prince who has “never cared much for princesses,” and ends up marrying another prince. The book, first published in the Netherlands, was released in the United States in 2002 by Tricycle Press in Berkeley.
The American Library Assn. notes that it was one of the most challenged books in the country in 2003 and 2004.