The epic battle between reality and delusion rages on in Utah these days. Most recently, parents and school administrators in Davis County (largely considered a suburb of Salt Lake City) voted to put another storybook for children depicting families with gay parents as “normal” in the objectionable category. In a 6-1 vote, a district-level committee comprised of parents, educators and administrators decided to move In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco behind the counter (just short of an outright ban) for any schools stocking the book in their libraries. The only dissenting vote was a high school librarian.
The impetus for the vote (and the book’s new porn-like placement behind the counter) is annoying on its own. Parents of a kindergartner were shocked and horrified to find the book in their child’s possession after the youngster selected it from the library. The book depicts the story of a normal every day family living life: kids playing with friends, dancing in the house, gardening, etc. The only problem for these folks is that the house is presided over by two women. The parents complained to the school, and after review the school moved the book into a section of the library restricted to older children (ages 6 and up). Problem solved, right? Wrong. Even though their child could no longer access the book, these parents weren’t satisfied until all children in the school were protected from the filth. They gathered signatures on a petition to the district and forced a vote to restrict access to the book to children handing in signed permission slips from their parents.
Another book facing similar classification is And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Pete Parnell. This story depicts two male penguins in a committed relationship who take over nesting an egg from another pair of penguins overwhelmed with the task of hatching two eggs. The gay penguins hatch the egg and their family is complete. The only problem with arguing that this story is not “normal” (and thereby relegating it to porn status behind the counter) is that…it is. The story of Tango is non-fiction; it tells the tale of actual penguins in the Central Park Zoo in NYC. So, if it’s happening naturally among penguins (and pretty much every other animal species out there), what are they protecting the kids from by hiding these books? Never mind that the Davis County elementary school ordered Our Mothers’ House to help a child in the school with two mothers raising her feel more included in the school community.
The fact is, pretending that these families don’t exist, and teaching kids these families are not normal or of equal status to their own is delusional. Hiding the book is not going to hide the young girl’s family. Her mothers will likely be present at many school functions over the next decade as this group moves through elementary, middle and high school together. Hiding the book about Tango is not going to address the fact these kids will be confronted with all forms of families (single parent, divorced, mixed ethnicity, foster and yes…same sex) as they get out into the world. And, I hate to break it to these parents, but hiding the fact people are gay from your children is not going to change that your child is gay if indeed your child is gay.
Salt Lake City Pride is this weekend (ironically, one of the largest celebrations in the nation). Anti-equality opponents often wag their fingers in disgust, proclaiming their righteousness in that they don’t need to flaunt their “straightness.” They ask why the gays have to make a spectacle shoving their lifestyle down everyone’s throats. My answer lies in the story of the Davis County school board. If we don’t constantly make our voices heard, shouting our message as loud as we can (and yes, in same cases sending go-go dancers in bedazzled thongs and leather daddies with whips parading down the city streets), they’ll just stick us behind the counter, out of sight and teaching their kids we don’t exist.
Photo courtesy Craftbits.com