The sky is falling

Proponents of same-sex marriage are fond of claiming that the sky has not fallen since the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Massachusetts in 2004. They say that the choice to form a homosexual union does not affect others and is ultimately a private decision between adults that deserves to be recognized.

But marriage has a public significance. The state’s recognition of same-sex marriage carries with it other serious consequences that go far beyond the personal choices of individual adults.

One example of that is the Lexington school system’s decision to promote diversity among first graders by using a children’s book titled “King & King.”

The story goes as follows: There was a young king whose mother was desperately trying to match him in marriage to a suitable princess. To her dismay, the prince failed to show interest in any of a large number of contenders he was presented with. That is until one day he falls in love, and eventually marries, the brother of one of the princess suitors. Even the queen, the book says, “shed a tear or two” of joy at the wedding. The story ends with an image of the “king and the king” kissing.

Is this the kind of story you imagine your six-year-old child or grandchild reading in his first grade class?

If not, then you might understand why concerned parents David and Tonia Parker, and Robert and Robin Wirthlin filed suit in federal court seeking permission to opt their children out of discussions of homosexuality in the classroom.

However, ruling in the case, Judge Mark Wolf has said that exposing first graders to such material is perfectly permissible since it can be seen as, “preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy.”

Daniel Avila, associate director for policy and research of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, told The Pilot that this ruling is an indication of the consequences of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 2003 Goodridge decision that expanded the definition of marriage in the state to include same-sex couples.

“The judge relied on the SJC ruling to argue that this is consistent with the call for diversity in the marriage status, so we should promote this kind of diversity in the public schools.”

The Goodridge decision is now being used as a basis for barring parents from taking control in the education of their children, Avila said.

The judge also dismissed the claim that the school system should have informed the parents and allowed them to opt out the class. Massachusetts parental notification laws allow parents to exempt their children from any portion of the school curriculum related to “human sexual education or human sexuality issues.”

However, Judge Wolfe found that the issue in this case was primarily diversity and not human sexuality.

Yet, Avila explained, “any human sexuality issue could fall into another topic.”

“But when there is a sexuality component involved as it clearly is the case here -- when you talk about same-sex coupling -- I think the parents deserve a favorable interpretation of the law that gives the right to opt out their children from objectionable classes.”

Parents have the natural right to be the initial and primary educators of their children. If this disgraceful ruling prevails, the rights of parents to oversee their children’s education in public schools on issues related with sexuality will be severely diminished.

Has the sky fallen with a bang? Most would agree it has not.

However this case shows that, unless we’re careful, case by case, school board decision by school board decision we could soon be standing with our heads in the clouds -- before we even realize it.