As you may recall, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that it was unconstitional to discriminate against "gay" couples and that they had every right to mary each other, just as heterosexual couples. This was just a first of series of victories for the homosexual movement. They ultimately, not only want to marry, but they want to pervert our children and introduce them to their sick lifestyle, but they don't obviously portray it that way. However, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in the case, Parker v. Hurley, which has just been handed down on January 31, 2008, is evident again how our judicial system not only is being corrupted by judicial activists, but is another step in taking away our fundamental right in raising our children in the schools. Some of the organizations that prepared amicus curiae briefs (briefs which are called friends of the court) that supported the school decision that I will be talking about was: Anti-Defamation League on brief for Anti-Defamation League, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders on brief for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders; Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; Greater Boston Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Human Rights Campaign; Human Rights Campaign Foundation; and the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association.
Two sets of parents, whose religious beliefs were offended by gay marriage and homosexuality, sued the Lexington, Massachusetts school district in which their young children are enrolled. They asserted that they must be given prior notice by the school and the opportunity to exempt their young children from exposure to books they find religiously repugnant. Plaintiffs asserted violations of their own and their children's rights under the Free Exercise Clause and their substantive parental and privacy due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.
The Parkers object to their child being presented in kindergarten and first grade with two books that portray diverse families, including families in which both parents are of the same gender. The Wirthlins object to a second-grade teacher's reading to their son's class a book that depicts and celebrates a gay marriage. The parents did not challenge the use of these books as part of a nondiscrimination curriculum in the public schools, but challenge the school district's refusal to provide them with prior notice and to allow for exemption from such instruction. They asked for relief until their children were in seventh grade.
Massachusetts does have a statute that requires parents be given notice and the opportunity to exempt their children from curriculum which primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71, § 32A. However, the school system declined to apply this statutory exemption to the parents on the basis that the materials did not primarily involve human sexual education or human sexuality issues. The U.S. District Court dismissed plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a federal constitutional claim upon which relief could be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); Parker v. Hurley, 474 F. Supp. 2d 261, 263 (D. Mass. 2007). The parents then appealed the decision.
In 1996, the Massachusetts legislature adopted a parental notification statute to be implemented by schools starting with the 1997-1998 school year. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71, § 32A. Section 32A requires school districts to provide parents with notice of and an opportunity to exempt their children from "curriculum which primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues." The Commissioner of Education, in an advisory opinion guiding the implementation of the new law, noted that it was intended to apply to discrete curricular units, such as "any courses (typically, sex education or portions of a health education or science course), school assemblies or other instructional activities and programs."
That statute has been interpreted in an opinion letter bythe Department of Education not to apply to educational materials designed to promote tolerance, including materials recognizingdifferences in sexual orientation, if those materials are presented"without further instruction or discussion of the physical andsexual implications of homosexuality."Close Schools must make the relevant curricular materials available for parents to review, though they do not necessarily have to allow parents to observe the classes. The statute mandates that the Department of Education promulgate regulations for resolving any disputes arising under section 32A, which the Department has done. See 603 Mass. Code Regs. 5.01 et seq. Lexington has a section 32A policy in place.
On November 18, 2003, a divided Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held, in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003), that the state constitution mandates the recognition of same-sex marriage. A later effort to reverse this decision through the mechanism of a constitutional convention and a popular vote failed.
B. The Parkers
David and Tonia Parker's sons, Jacob and Joshua Parker, and Joseph and Robin Wirthlin's son, Joseph Robert Wirthlin, Jr., were students at Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington, Massachusetts. Both families asserted that they were devout Christians and that a core belief of their religion is that homosexual behavior and gay marriage are immoral and violate God's law.
In January 2005, when Jacob Parker ("Jacob") was in kindergarten, he brought home a "Diversity Book Bag." This included a picture book, Who's in a Family?, which depicted different families, including single-parent families, an extended family, interracial families, animal families, a family without children, and -- to the concern of the Parkers -- a family with two dads and a family with two moms. The book concludes by answering the question, "Who's in a family?": "The people who love you the most!" The book says nothing about marriage.
The Parkers were concerned that this book was part of an effort by the public schools "to indoctrinate young children into the concept that homosexuality and homosexual relationships or marriage are moral and acceptable behavior." On January 21, 2005, they met with Estabrook's principal, Joni Jay ("Jay"), to request that Jacob not be exposed to any further discussions of homosexuality. Principal Jay disagreed that the school had any obligation under section 32A to notify parents in advance of such class discussions. In March 2005, the Parkers repeated their request that "no teacher or adult expose [Jacob] to any materials or discussions featuring sexual orientation, same-sex unions, or homosexuality without notification to the Parkers and the right to 'opt out,'" this time including in their communication the then-Superintendent of Lexington's schools, William Hurley ("Hurley"), and two other district-wide administrators. This request was met with the same response. A further meeting to discuss these issues was held at Estabrook on April 27, 2005, which resulted in Mr. Parker's arrest when he refused to leave the school until his demands were met.
As the 2005-2006 school year began, Paul Ash ("Ash"), the current Superintendent, released a public statement explaining the school district's position that it would not provide parental notification for "discussions, activities, or materials that simply reference same-gender parents or that otherwise recognize the existence of differences in sexual orientation." When Jacob entered first grade that fall, his classroom's book collection included Who's in a Family? as well as Molly's Family, a picture book about a girl who is at first made to feel embarrassed by a classmate because she has both a mommy and a mama but then learns that families can come in many different varieties. In December 2005, the Parkers repeated their request for advance notice, which Superintendent Ash again denied.
C. The Wirthlins
In March 2006, an Estabrook teacher read aloud King and King to her second grade class, which included Joseph Robert Wirthlin, Jr. ("Joey"). This picture book tells the story of a prince, ordered by his mother to get married, who first rejects several princesses only to fall in love with another prince. A wedding scene between the two princes is depicted. The last page of the book shows the two princes kissing, but with a red heart superimposed over their mouths. Jay reiterated the school district's position that no prior notice or exemption would be given.
On April 27, 2006, the Parkers and the Wirthlins filed suit on behalf of themselves and their children in federal district court against Hurley, Ash, Jay, and Joey Wirthlin's teacher, as well as the town of Lexington, the members of its school board, and other school district administrators.
The complaint alleged that the public schools were systematically indoctrinating the Parkers' and the Wirthlins' young children contrary to the parents' religious beliefs and that the defendants held "a specific intention to denigrate the [families'] sincere and deeply-held faith." They claimed, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, violations of their and their children's First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and of their Fourteenth Amendment due process right to parental autonomy in the upbringing of their children, as well as of their concomitant state rights. The plaintiffs also claimed that defendants violated § 1983by conspiring to deprive them of these constitutional rights.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals held, "Further, these books do not endorse gay marriage or homosexuality, or even address these topics explicitly, but merely describe how other children might come from families that look different from one's own. There is no free exercise right to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which the parents are of different gender combinations.
Joey has a more significant claim, both because he was required to sit through a classroom reading of King and King and because that book affirmatively endorses homosexuality and gay marriage. It is a fair inference that the reading of King and King was precisely intended to influence the listening children toward tolerance of gay marriage. That was the point of why that book was chosen and used. Even assuming there is a continuum along which an intent to influence could become an attempt to indoctrinate, however, this case is firmly on the influence-toward-tolerance end. There is no evidence of systemic indoctrination. There is no allegation that Joey was asked to affirm gay marriage. Requiring a student to read a particular book is generally not coercive of free exercise rights...(t)he reading of King and King was not instruction in religion or religious beliefs. We do not suggest that the school's choice of books for young students has not deeply offended the plaintiffs' sincerely held religious beliefs. If the school system has been insufficiently sensitive to such religious beliefs, the plaintiffs may seek recourse to the normal political processes for change in the town and state. See Smith, 494 U.S. at 890. They are not entitled to a federal judicial remedy under the U.S. Constitution.
We affirm the district court's dismissal with prejudice of plaintiffs' federal claims and its dismissal without prejudice of the state claims so that they may be reinstated, should plaintiffs choose, in state court.
It's amazing to see a court say that there is no basis of indoctrination from the school system when you see the books that they are having these children to read. This is why it is so important for parents to strongly look at home schooling. The public school systems have been literally destroyed. Parents today rarely take a proactive approach in their children's education. While parents think their children are being taught the a,b,cs, they are also being taught the homosexual lifestyle. This is starting in kindergarden, 1st grade and up. Most of the time, the parents are clueless in this. How much do you care about your children. Will they be raised in a Christian environment, free from the homosexual agenda? Your children are the targets of these activists. You need to be aware of that. What will you do to preserve your child's future? If you haven't, take your children out of the public school, and home school them. This may be their only hope. Until then.