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A teacher and assistant principal at Orange County’s Efland-Cheeks Elementary School have resigned their positions following an uproar over the teacher’s decision to read a gay-themed fairy tale to his third grade students in an effort to put a stop to bullying in his school.

From the News & Observer:

Omar Currie and Meg Goodhand of Efland-Cheeks Elementary School submitted resignation letters, Orange County Schools spokesman Seth Stephens said Monday.

Currie had said he would resign because he felt administrators did not support him after he read “King & King,” in which two princes fall in love and get married. He has said he read the book after a boy in his class was called gay in a derogatory way and told he was acting like a girl.

Previous press reports detail how the teacher’s decision to read “King & King” sparked an uproar in the community, with parents filing formal objections to the book resulting in two public hearings.

While the Orange County elementary school has twice decided to uphold the use of the book, one parent has appealed that decision to the superintendent. Orange County schools will hold a public hearing on the matter Thursday evening.

Currie, a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who is gay, says he’s felt unsupported in his decision to read the book to students and has been criticized for participating in an interview about the controversy on school grounds, even though he did not break any rules related to student privacy.

The News & Observer conducted a lengthy Q&A session with Currie that was published back in May. In the interview, Currie explains what happened the day he read “King & King,” what it’s like to teach in a rural school, and how he has experienced bullying himself as a gay African-American teen in middle school.

Can a teacher be an activist? (Currie and [assistant principal] Goodhand have been criticized for speaking at a conference for LGBT activists, which sought in part to challenge ‘the heteronormative culture in schools.’)

Currie: Yes, I think you should be. You have a group of students in your classroom. You leave a lasting impact and a lasting impression on them. It is important that you are championing the rights of those kids and the future of those kids. I think it’s important that you’re an activist and not just about things like that, but in general for the teaching profession and your rights as a teacher.

Read the full Q&A here.

Commentary

Today, on the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down state laws banning interracial marriage in the case of Loving v. Virginia, condemnations continue to pour in from across the country for North Carolina’s absurd and offensive new marriage discrimination law. Here are just a few:

From Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Senate leader Phil Berger, the champion of the measure, says it protects the religious freedom of public servants who have religious objections to same-sex marriage. But this is not about protecting religion. It is about respecting the law. With this vote, the majority has scoffed at it….

In its defiant rejection of that message, the General Assembly once more raises that flag of intolerance over North Carolina as it did when it approved an amendment to the state Constitution banning same-sex marriage. That flag is seen nationwide. It will be another signal of the state’s rightward turn and another reason why businesses and people will less inclined to make a new home in North Carolina. Even if Democrats reclaimed the General Assembly, it would be years before the state’s image could heal from the battering this current legislative leadership is giving it.”

From the Greensboro News & Record:

“Now the state will have to live with the consequences of a law that is not only discriminatory but, as the governor labeled it, unconstitutional. It will draw yet more legal challenges. This legislature is costing taxpayers many millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees and losing one court ruling after another. This will be one more….In the meantime, North Carolina makes itself known across the country for enacting a law that says some people can expect less service than others in state offices. It’s a shame. Having enough votes doesn’t put the legislature in the right.”

From the New Yorker magazine:

“Proposals to let magistrates withhold marriage licenses have the same problems, with the added insult that the discrimination is effectively coming from the state. If officials can decide not to implement laws they dislike, then equality under the law—for gay couples, at least —is just a slogan.”

From the Orange County, California Register:

“SB2 violates civil rights and insults human dignity. As did anti-miscegenation laws, it would violate constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection of the law. United States v. Windsor, in which the high court in 2013 struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, affirmed that ‘state laws defining or regulating marriage, of course, must respect the constitutional rights of persons.’”

The bottom line: North Carolina is once again the butt of jokes and derision around the country and the world and the Raleigh reign of error continues.

Commentary

George WallaceThe decision of North Carolina House to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2 this morning comes on an appropriate anniversary in American history.

As the Jackson Mississippi Clarion-Ledger reminds us this morning:

“June 11, 1963: Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in front of a schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in an attempt to stop desegregation by the enrollment of two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Wallace stood aside after being confronted by federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and the Alabama National Guard. Later in life, Wallace apologized for his opposition to racial integration.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t take long for officials of the United States government to ask state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore to step aside (and that Berger and Moore don’t take as long as Wallace did to apologize for their embarrassing actions).

Commentary
Image: Franklin Graham's Facebook page

Image: Franklin Graham’s Facebook page

The responses are pouring into the Rev. Franklin Graham’s latest homophobic rant. The son of famed evangelist Billy Graham and head of North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse is calling for a boycott of Wells Fargo Bank and Tiffany & Co., because the companies have acknowledged and celebrated same sex married couples in advertisements.

One of the best responses thus far is entitled “So let me get this straight…” and it comes from Prof. Dominick Scudera of Ursinus College courtesy of the Huffington Post. As Scudera notes:

“So let me get this straight …

All mothers deserve to be celebrated, except lesbian mothers who adopt deaf children because those particular mothers are part of the moral decay being crammed down the throat of Christians in America? Is that right? Am I understanding that correctly?

In his Facebook post, Graham supports a boycott of businesses that are supportive of gay rights: ‘At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank … Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards.’

Graham used his Facebook account to spread his message. Facebook is a gay-friendly business. Facebook is one of 379 corporations and employer organizations who have urged the Supreme Court to strike down state bans on gay marriage in a friend-of-the-court brief.

So let me get this straight …

We should stop doing business with those companies which promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards, except Facebook. Yes?

Well, maybe Twitter, too. At the bottom of the “Celebrate Moms” campaign page, readers are urged to share the message on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter is another one of the 379 corporations supporting gay marriage….”

Read Scudera’s entire post by clicking here.

 

Commentary

Gay marriage 3Even as lawmakers move to override Governor McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2 — the proposal to allow magistrates, registers of deeds and assistant registers of deeds opt out of performing same sex marriages — North Carolina public opinion continues to move rapidly in the direction of tolerance.

One of the nation’s most accurate polling firms — Public Policy Polling — has the details:

“PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds a record high level of support for gay marriage, 8 months after it became legal in the state. Voters are now almost evenly divided on the issue with 44% in support and 46% against it. That marks a massive shift in public sentiment over the last three years. In 2012 North Carolinians passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by 22 points, 61/39. Last year we found that voters in the state still opposed it by 13 points at 40/53.

The big shift in attitudes may be a product of North Carolinians finding after gay marriage did become legal in the state that it just wasn’t a big deal. 69% of voters in the state either say that its being legal has had a positive impact on their lives or no impact at all, with only 31% claiming it’s had a negative effect.

The numbers by party in North Carolina on this issue really show the extent to which Republicans are on such a different plane when it comes to social issues than Democrats and independents. 59% of both Democrats and independents say they think gay marriage should be legal- meanwhile only 17% of Republicans do. There’s also a huge generational gap- 57% of voters under 45 favor gay marriage, while only 36% over 45 do. Support will just keep increasing given that age divide.”

See all the details of the new PPP poll by clicking here.