Public schools should be in the business of adding to children's knowledge, not restricting what children know to what one group of parents wants them to know.
That is what the Davis School District is doing by requiring children to have written parental permission in order to read In Our Mothers' House, a sweet picture book about a family with children of several races who have two lesbian mothers. In doing so, the district is teaching its children that books about families headed by same-sex parents are akin to forbidden pornography that is placed behind the counter or curtains at the magazine shop or convenience store.
The decision by a school committee earlier this year to remove the book from shelves of elementary school libraries perpetuates the bigotry evident among parents who demanded it. And, worse, it is likely to extend that bigotry to their children. If parents want to teach their children at home to discriminate against gays and lesbians or any other group, they have that right. But they should not be allowed to force other district parents to accept their biased views.
A Kaysville mother who is suing the district over its policy on the book rightly says it violates her children's First Amendment rights. The book was chosen by librarians specifically because there are children in the district living in families with same-sex parents. Those children have a right to feel included and to understand that various types of families are all acceptable. That's one of the criteria that school libraries should use in choosing books.
The parents who want to pretend that same-sex couples are not raising children and doing it well in Davis County and throughout Utah want schools to maintain the pretense. That is wrong.
In Our Mothers' House is no different from a book portraying adopted children, children in blended families or children being raised by single mothers or fathers. "Traditional" families with both a mother and father are no more traditional, or successful, in the 21st century than any other family structure.
The reasons parents are giving in emails for wanting the book removed from shelves show the level of their intolerance. They write that the book "promotes homosexuality" and "brainwashes very young children." The book does nothing of the kind. Further, homosexuality is not a disease that parents must protect their children from. The book is not about sex at all but about acceptance.
Teaching children to accept people who are different in some way is not brainwashing. It is, simply, education.