Calliope Writing


NC Teacher Resigns After Upset Over Story Time Book
June 23, 2015, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Books, News | Tags: , , , ,

My home region of the Carolinas has been on the news recently. A third-grade teacher in Efland, NC, recently resigned. And why is that news? Because it happened following an outcry in response to his raising the issue of homosexuality during story time with his students.

Here’s the General Gist

In April, a third-grader in Omar Currie‘s class approached the teacher crying and said he had been called “gay” by another student. Currie decided to open the door to the topic of homosexuality by reading King and King to his third-graders during story time. The book is a fairy tale about a prince who meets and falls in love with another prince.

king and kingNot all the students’ parents were thrilled about Currie discussing this sensitive topic with their seven- and eight-year-olds who likely hadn’t been made aware of what “homosexual” is or what “gay” really means.

Currie was reported as saying:

When I read the story, the reaction of parents didn’t come into my mind. In that moment, it just seemed natural to me to read the book and have a conversation about treating people with respect. My focus then was on the child, and helping the child.

And after I read about Currie’s background, I believe him when he says the thought didn’t cross his mind. Although it truly isn’t anyone’s business (but he revealed it during an interview, so…), Currie is gay. And black.

If you live in the South, or have ever lived down here for an extended period, you know that being both black (or any race other than white) and gay (or any sexual preference other than heterosexual) makes a person an incredibly bigger target for bullies and general shit-givers (i.e., the mean kids) in the southeastern portion of the nation. And unfortunately, it sounds like this was the case for Currie through childhood and adolescence.

The story goes deeper and gets uglier (hate mail is just one part of it) than I’m willing to go or get. Suffice it to say, a lot of ill will was sent in Currie’s direction, and he resigned. The New York Times reports:

Though he says administrators never formally disciplined him for his decision to read the book, Currie said he was made to feel that he had done something wrong and felt pressured to leave the school. He is currently looking for another teaching job.

Additionally, the school’s assistant principal, who had loaned King and King to Currie prior to the “story time incident,” resigned. (No more details on that aspect, I’m afraid.)

childrens books 1

That’s heavy. Let’s take a breather for a minute with…

Story Time Books That Would REALLY Upset Parents

  1. A Dog’s Tail, Jamie A. Landsman – Third grade is not the age you want to learn about alcoholism…unless, like Alice the dog, you live with an alcoholic family member.
  2. The Night Dad Went to Jail, Melissa Higgins – Man. I feel sorry for the kid whose parents plan to read this as a bedtime story tonight.
  3. Maggie Goes on a DietPaul Kramer – Whoa. Is fourteen-year-old Maggie really that obese? Doesn’t look like it, from the cover (and that’s a full-body shot, y’all!). Furthermore, does any child between eight and twelve (the “recommended ages” for this gem of a book) need to even know what the word “diet” means?!
  4. My Big Sister Takes Drugs, Judith Vigna – Well, Little Johnny or Janie, that’s because she’s cooler than you. Kidding, kidding!!
  5. Don’t Drink the Holy Water!, Father Joe Kempf – If the inappropriateness of that one (in a public school) doesn’t quite make sense to you, replace it in your mind with Faatimah and Ahmed – We’re Little Muslims by Razeena Gutta. Same principle, different religion. Now does it make sense, you Islamophobe?!

Sound Off

Back to the real topic at hand: Omar Currie and King and King being read to third-graders in a public school. It’s time for you to chime in by voting in the poll below:

What are your thoughts on this story (and do you have any recommendations for books to add to the above list)?


5 Comments so far
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Great!! Dave

Liked by 1 person

Comment by David Seaburn

I think that in a country that has come so far with being open to learning and accepting cultures and races and populations that differ from theirs in so many ways, it is sad that “censorship” is coming into play when the intentions were to educate children. Could the parents have been made aware ahead of time the material being shared with the child in their classroom beforehand and had the option to decline, sure. But to ostracize someone who was trying to put a stop to the never ending ignorance passed down from generation to generation and strive to ensure equality for all, should he really have to resign from his job? Guess what. Homosexuality is real. Alcoholism very real… Drug abusers and overdoses-extremely prominent. Who is the author of this article to say that children who are experiencing these things could not benefit from reading a book like this and knowing they are not alone and then encourage them to reach out to a teacher or guidance counselor for help, when maybe they were too afraid to before. In fact, these “controversial books parents wouldn’t want their kids reading”- maybe the writer of this article is dealing with one of these issues in their own life and is having difficulty coming to terms with it. Does that mean that difficult discussions should be avoided all together with children and we all pretend the world is perfect until a tragedy strikes us or our children personally? I would love to have a chat with the author of this article one on one, but unfortunately when someone is that close minded, I probably wouldn’t get far.

Liked by 1 person

Comment by Alice L.

Hi Alice–thank you for commenting! I totally agree with you. I think it’s ridiculous how large of a deal this was made into.

But I am confused–when you refer to the “author of this article,” do you mean the NY Times author? Or are you referring to me?

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Comment by Katrina Robinson

If you are the one who compiled the list of books that would “upset parents,” then yes I was referring to you. It is pretty clear that each of those titles indicate these books are not Disney, and they exist for the purpose of addressing very serious situations with children in a manner that may be more comfortable for them to open up and find discussing the issues as more approachable (ex: A Dog’s Tail: Alice’s hindsight of alcohol abuse in her family and My big sister takes drugs). Sounds to me these books are for targeted audiences, and if one did their research into these titles they would be able to comprehend this. It gives the readers characters to relate to and lets them know they are not alone and they can conquer these issues. Things can get better. I applaud those authors for their intent to address some very serious issues kids today are dealing with now more than ever, and it’s good to see people being proactive and using their talent for something good.

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Comment by Alice

I’m so sorry that you were offended.

My list was a joke. I thought that was obvious.

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Comment by Katrina Robinson




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