This past month at Efland Cheeks Elementary, 8 and 9 year-old kids were read a ‘fairytale’ that contained themes about homosexuality by teacher Omar Currie.
Currie claimed this book was chosen and read due to an incident of bullying he witnessed. News and Observer captured this claim:
The incident began when some students started calling a boy who acts “a little feminine” a girl and “the term gay was used in a derogatory way,” Currie said.
He called the school’s media center, which did not have the book but referred him to Goodhand, who gave him a copy, Currie said. He read it during a read-aloud period.
The next day, Currie said Brown told him he should have notified parents beforehand.
It is this claim made by Mr. Currie that prompted him to take matters into his own hands with the reading of King and King.
No incident report has been found substantiating this claim. No parent has spoken up to say their kid was involved. No media outlet has followed up to confirm this claim. As evidenced by the outraged parents, none of them were told of the alleged ‘bullying’ incident or the reading of the book.
The book was given to him by Assistant Principal, Meg Goodhand. Goodhand, like Currie, is apparently also gay.
From Goodhand’s bio at ‘LGBTinTheSouth.com’ with emphasis added:
Meg Goodhand is currently an assistant principal at Efland-Cheeks Elementary in Orange County. Meg’s recent studies focused on the barriers presented by the heteronormative culture of schools for children that are gender diverse and/or LGBTQ. She asserts social activists must focus on the elementary school culture to begin to confront heterosexism and homophobia at this early and crucial period of development. Meg ‘s research shares a perspective that through transformative learning opportunities, educators can reframe their attitudes, beliefs and knowledge about gender nonconformity, the LGBTQ community and the heteronormative culture within schools and society. Ideally, with this new understanding, educators as social justice leaders will be willing to disrupt the heteronormative culture of a classroom and their schools.
Currently Meg serves on the board of Safe Schools NC. Safe Schools NC is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to creating a safe and positive environment for all students and educators in North Carolina, with an emphasis on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
The purpose of Safe Schools NC as stated on their website, “Safe Schools NC is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to creating a safe and positive learning environment for all students and educators in North Carolina, with an emphasis on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.“
View the NC Secretary of State profiles for Safe Schools NC.
On April 17th and 18th, LGBT in The South held a conference in Asheville, NC.
Scrolling down the list of events and presentations, we find Ms. Goodhand and Mr. Currie representing Safe Schools NC in a presentation titled, The Past, Present, and Future of LGBTQ Safe Spaces In Southern Schools.
Here’s the description of the session with emphasis added:
This blended presentation is intended for a diverse audience of practitioners, activists, teachers or anyone interested in creating safe positive school cultures for all students. The hour-and-a-half workshop will incorporate both research findings and related practical activities meant to elicit audience participation.
The first component, The Power of Story and Identity: Understanding LGBTQ Education In The South, will reveal issues of hope, happiness, and leadership within LGBTQ youth. We believe in both the power of student stories and teacher identity to create safe mental and physical spaces for positive LGBTQ self-regard. To that end, we will address the institutions and historical events which have led to the present-day LGBTQ academic experience.
We will then present on the impact of narrativity in supporting positive LGBTQ identity and self-concept in students. Last but never least, we will highlight the ways in which schools and organizations affect the authenticity of gay teachers and their straight allies.
The second component, Disrupting Heteronormative School Cultures, will help participants identify and define terminology associated with the LGBTQ community. We will explore the manifestations of homophobia within the schools, share and reflect upon the barriers to disrupting heterosexism, and collaborate on ways school leaders and teachers can confront homophobic language/actions/curricula within the schools. This component will share resources and statewide counterpublics that support LGBTQ youth and teachers.
This conference and presentation took place immediately preceding the so far unsubstantiated claim of ‘bullying’ and subsequent reading of King and King.
Was this reading done to combat bullying or to advance a social justice agenda clearly laid out by Currie and Goodhand? Either way, arguably the actions of these two individuals usurped the rights of parents to decide about sensitive materials and topics for their children.