A Massachusetts man faces a court trial over a dispute involving the teaching of different types of families in his chid’s school.
On April 27, 2005, David Parker, then a father of a kindergarten student, met with school officials at a Lexington elementary school. His child had described to him a classroom lesson in which the teacher read from a book about different types of families.
The father met with school officials demanding to be notified whenever classroom materials were used that depicted families headed by same-gender parents so that he could remove his son from the class. He claimed he had the right to do this based on the state’s sex education opt-out law.
The school officials explained to Mr. Parker that the materials and situations in question were not covered by that law. When the meeting concluded, Mr. Parker refused to leave the school grounds unless his demands were met. Both the school officials and the police spent hours trying to convince him to leave. When the building finally had to be secured for the night, Mr. Parker stated, “If I’m not under arrest then I’m not leaving”. He was then arrested for trespassing.
Some observers say he wanted to get arrested by police officers in 2005 to bring attention to his position.
Mr. Parker has since waged an ongoing media campaign against Lexington with the an anti-gay group committed to overturning marriage equality in Massachusetts.
Mr. Parker and his supporters incorrectly claim that he was arrested for his views, not for trespassing. They blame the school officials and police for arresting him when in fact every attempt was made to get Mr. Parker to leave the building on his own. The police tried to do everything in their power to not arrest him. Mr. Parker gave them no choice.
The illustrated book in question says, “A family can be made up in many different ways” and includes this text:
- “Laura and Kyle live with their two moms, Joyce and Emily, and a poodle named Daisy. It takes all four of them to give Daisy her bath.”
Another illustrated page says:
- “Robin’s family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad’s partner, Henry, and Robin’s cat, Sassy. Clifford and Henry take turns making dinner for their family.”
A backer of the Lexington School District argued, according to WCVB-TV in Boston, “A 5-year-old who is coming to the classroom with two moms deserves to be in a classroom that includes books that show his family.”
The police chief and interim school superintendent issued a joint statement on May 2, 2005 describing the incident at Estabrook School.
Parker filed a lawsuit at the United States District Court of Massachusetts. And the ACLU of Massachusetts responded.
A federal judge dismissed the suit by Parker who contended that the Lexington public school system violated his constitutional rights.
Parker has appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and his son has been bullied by classmates. A conservative group issued a press release, saying students attacked the boy because of his father’s protests.