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Parents Object to Screening of Tape on Family Diversity in Public Elementary School

Marlton, NJ

Parents of students in a southern New Jersey elementary school expressed anger upon learning that their children had been shown a video that depicted families with same-sex parents.

Shortly before Christmas 2006, third-graders at J. Howard Van Zant elementary school were shown a film titled That’s A Family.  The film, which school administrators say was intended to teach tolerance, portrays numerous types of families including those with adopted children as well as families with divorced, bilingual, same-sex, mixed race, and step parents.1,2

The parents of one 9 year-old student disapproved of the video’s content, arguing that the depiction of same-sex parented families “was absolutely appalling.”3 This parent also complained that the school had not requested his permission before screening the film in his daughter’s class.4

The school responded by scheduling a forum to discuss the issue with other concerned parents. Family members present at the meeting disagreed as to whether the film should have been screened in a public school classroom. Several parents argued that they had an exclusive right to expose children to messages about sexuality. One grandparent asked, “When does Evesham Township or any school have a right to show to my grandchildren something I believe to be morally wrong?”5 The mother of another third-grader countered this sentiment, asserting that “You have to acknowledge that these different kinds of families exist.”6

School administrators defended their choice, maintaining that the video brings a crucial message of tolerance and diversity to the classroom. The school’s Director of Curriculum explained, “[T]he video makes no judgment about lifestyles” and “is [shown] to teach respect for the diversity of all children.” The director also clarified that parents had been notified about the video, saying, “[A]t the beginning of 2006, a notice about the video went out to all parents....” but acknowledged that “there were no specifics about same-sex parents.”7

The school board of the Marlton-Evesham School District will reconvene to discuss this issue in mid-February.8  SIECUS will continue monitoring this situation. 

References

  1. “Parents Upset Children Shows Diversity Take on Gay Parenting,” NBC10.com, (22 January 2007), accessed 31 January 2007, <www.nbc10.com/news/10817119/detail.html>.
  2. Todd Quinones, “Parents Outraged By ‘Family’ Video Presentation,” CBS3.com, (31 January 2007), accessed 31 January 2007, <http://cbs3.com/topstories/local_story_030235258.html>.
  3. “Parents Upset Children Shows Diversity Take on Gay Parenting.”
  4. Ibid.
  5. Quinones.
  6. Ibid.
  7. “Parents Upset Children Shows Diversity Take on Gay Parenting.
  8. Quinones.

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