A North Carolina elementary school teacher has resigned after his decision to read a gay-themed children’s book to his third-grade class led to controversy in the small town of Efland.
Omar Currie read his students “King and King,” a fairy tale about a prince who finds his prince charming, after he perceived negative gay stereotyping in his class. He has explained that he was inspired to teach the book after “a boy in his class who acts ‘a little feminine’ was being called a girl and the word gay was used in a derogatory way.”
Parents and guardians of the children protested. A community hearing was attended by 200 people. One grandmother told the News & Observer, “This is nothing more than bringing homosexuality into a school where it does not belong.”
Although his decision to teach the story was upheld by a review committee, the school’s principal later ordered teachers to inform parents in advance about books they read to their students. Currie told the Herald-Sun that the new policy was “unrealistic.” "[G]reat teachers pull text because it’s right for the moment,” he said.
Now Currie has resigned from Efland-Cheeks Elementary School “because he felt administrators did not support him,” the News & Observer reports.
The school’s assistant principal, Meg Goodhand, who lent Currie the copy of the book he read to his class, has also submitted a letter of resignation.
Currie also said he was “intimidated” by some school administrators, and was asked not to speak to the press about the furor over the book, adding, “I felt they were trying to silence the conversation.”
“King & King” tells the story of a crown prince who has “never cared much for princesses,” and ends up marrying another prince. The book, first published in the Netherlands, was released in the United States in 2002 by Tricycle Press in Berkeley. The American Library Assn. notes that it was one of the most challenged books in the country in 2003 and 2004.
The local controversy over “King & King” continues. The review committee’s decision to uphold the book is being appealed to the school district’s superintendent, and a public meeting to discuss the book will be held Thursday.
Currie told the News & Observer that while he’s “disappointed” by the controversy, he still plans to continue his career in education, and has already had five job interviews. He said he’ll be tutoring students in the town over the summer, adding, “I still want to be very involved in the Efland community.”