April 19, 1997 in City

Books Promotional, Not Educational

Michelle Malkin The Seattle Times
 

Ellen DeGeneres is out, smiling, and on the cover of Time magazine. Good for her.

Western civilization won’t crumble with the public announcement of her sexual preference. Cultural conservatives who rail apoplectically against Ellen (the Rev. Jerry Falwell called her “Ellen DeGenerate”) are wasting their time - and squandering their public credibility.

There are legitimate protests to be made against the excesses of the so-called gay agenda. But if Ellen wants to date another woman in private, I say fine. It’s none of my business.

And if she wants to celebrate her lesbianism on TV, fine. I can always change the channel.

The same cannot be said for children in public schools. Sexual and political cheerleading may be acceptable over the airwaves, but it has no place in taxpayer-subsidized classrooms where kids are a captive audience.

Five years ago, a racially and politically diverse group of parents in New York rejected a gay and lesbian curriculum that included “Heather Has Two Mommies” because of its political nature. Some parents also objected on the basis of their belief that homosexuality is wrong. Whether or not one shares that view, it’s clear that under the guise of teaching “tolerance,” the public schools overstepped their bounds.

Now this battle has arrived in Seattle. Thanks to a private donation by Seattle Councilwoman Tina Podlodowski, administered through the nonprofit Pride Foundation, Seattle’s elementary public school libraries will be stocked next fall with gay and lesbian children’s books that cross the line from literature to propaganda. The conservative Washington Family Council in Bellevue is leading the charge against the district, but the books are worth the vehement objections of broad-minded people on both the right and left.

The readings include a childhood lesson in artificial insemination; a Dr. Seuss-like discourse on the superiority of two-daddy versus one-daddy families; a reading on the joys of kiddie cross-dressing, and a tot’s account of her adventures at a gay-rights rally. Here, in greater detail, is what will soon be available to public school students, some barely out of their diapers:

From “Heather Has Two Mommies,” for children ages 3 to 8: “Kate and Jane went to see a special doctor together. After the doctor examined Jane to make sure that she was healthy, she put some sperm into Jane’s vagina. The sperm swam up into Jane’s womb. If there was an egg waiting there, the sperm and the egg would meet, and the baby would start to grow.”

From “The Generous Jefferson Bartleby Jones,” for children ages 6 to 10: “Well the facts may seem strange, but Jeff spoke so proudly about his two dads, he had boasted so loudly of all of their virtues, that his friends, with just one, were beginning to feel they’d been missing the fun.”

Plot summary of “Jessie’s Dream Skirt,” for children ages 3 to 8: “Jessie (a little boy) wants a swirly, colorful skirt, so his mother reluctantly makes one for him. His school friends tease him, his teacher (an African-American male) intervenes and they all have fun dressing up.”

From “Gloria Goes to Gay Pride,” for children ages 3 to 7: “Some women love women. Some men love men. Some women and men love each other. That’s why we march in the parade - so everyone can have a choice.”

I don’t begrudge any parent - straight, gay, or whatever else - the right to buy these books at Barnes and Noble and read them to their kids at home. But “Heather Has Two Mommies” has no less claim to public school bookshelves than “Heather Has First Communion.” “Jessie’s Dream Skirt” is as inappropriate for public school consumption as “Jessie’s Dream Rifle.”

And “Gloria Goes to Gay Pride” (which is so “realistic” it “even includes glowering fundamentalists,” according to one enthralled reviewer) is as unfit for public school curricula as “Patricia Goes to Pro-Life” (which, if it existed, would naturally include glowering pro-abortion activists).

District officials say the books are necessary to “dispel myths and stereotypes.” The problem isn’t that they put homosexuality in a positive light (I thought “Daddy’s Roommate,” a frequent target of pro-family conservatives, was the least objectionable book on the list), but that they bathe gays and lesbians in an artificially glorious light - creating new myths, rather than dispelling them.

Take Jefferson Bartleby Jones’ two dads. They can do no wrong. Jeff’s two best friends, whose straight fathers work too much, feel “quite forsaken” until the generous boy lends out his gay superdads for a weekend and lets his poor playmates “get in on the fun.”

The book ends with the three kids and two dads “munching three-decker cones” at the mall. If this isn’t promotion, what is?

The purpose of public education is to convey common knowledge and skills. Imparting age-appropriate facts about human plumbing, success and failure rates of contraceptive devices, and all the various routes by which AIDS can be transmitted, is one thing. Promoting gay - or hetero - envy is quite another.

Our public schools should get back to the business of teaching history, grammar, math and the Golden Rule - and leave political programming to the TV networks.

xxxx


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