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Dismissed lawsuit increases attention on parental rights

David Parker of Lexington, Mass., second from left, speaks during a news conference in Boston, April 27, 2006 following filing a federal lawsuit claiming school administrators violated their civil rights and broke state law when they distributed and read two storybooks that depict gay relationships to their children without prior notification. His wife Tonia, right, Joseph Wirthlin, second from left, and his wife Robin, left, look on. AP File Photo/Chitose Suzuki

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LEXINGTON -- National attention has increased on a case involving parental rights being trumped by public school policies since a federal judge Feb. 23 dismissed a lawsuit brought by two Lexington couples.

The case highlights how gay activists have made inroads within some Massachusetts public schools, even before the state Supreme Judicial Court paved the way in 2004 for “same-sex marriage” licenses.

David and Tonia Parker and Joseph and Robin Worthlin filed a constitutional lawsuit in 2006 against Lexington Public School officials. The Christian parents objected that their kindergarten and second-grade children were exposed without the parents’ prior knowledge to books designed to mainstream same-sex unions.

They argued that because the children were so young, this amounted to indoctrination; it deprived the parents of their right to present this sensitive issue within the framework of their moral beliefs at an age-appropriate time.

Their request for prior notice to opt their children out of future discussions was denied by school officials, who later garnered support in their defense from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), national gay advocacy groups, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

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