Newton is a neighboring town to Lexington and shares a lot of the same ugly left-wing activism. Similar demographics and similar education attitudes and hostility toward people who have a different opinion. The Superintendent of Schools, Jeffrey Young, came to Newton from Lexington. But Newton isn't quite in Lexington's league . . . yet.
Tom Mountain of the Newton Tab is a weekly columnist who covers a lot of education issues. Unfortunately, this article would never be published by anyone on the staff of the Lexington Minuteman.
It could happen here
By Tom Mountain/ Our Turn
The Newton Tab - Newton, Massachusetts
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
All David Parker of Lexington ever wanted was for his young son to attend a normal school in a normal environment devoid of any ideology and propaganda that contradicted his Judeo-Christian ethics. All he ever sought was the respect and consideration normally granted to any parent of any child in any American public school. All he ever needed was an assurance from his child's school that his parental rights would be respected and upheld in accordance with state law and that American tradition of fairness, respect and deference to parental authority.
Yet the Lexington School Committee, school department, selectmen, religious leaders, community activists, school parents and not-so-average-citizens formed a relentless unruly mob to torment, intimidate, ostracize and drive Mr. Parker and his family from "No Place for Hate" Lexington.
The most troubling aspect of the David Parker saga is that it could happen here in Newton. And in several variations, it has happened here. Some of what happened to Mr. Parker has happened to Newton parents, and much of what happened to him will resonate with all too many families in Newton.
David Parker moved to Lexington a few years ago and enrolled his son, a kindergartener, in the Estabrook Elementary School. As part of their core curriculum, the school's Anti-Bias Committee (sound familiar?) sent home a "Diversity Book Bag" which included a book that celebrated gay and lesbian couples. David and Tonia Parker, as devout Christians, sent a letter to the principal outlining their objections. They simply asked to be notified when homosexuality was discussed in their child's kindergarten so that as parents they could exercise their right to opt their 5-year-old out of the class, in accordance with their rights granted by the Parental Notification Law.
Lexington school officials repeatedly ignored their requests.
The Parkers were adamant, and in subsequent communications with the school department lasting over eight months, repeatedly stated, "We do not authorize any teacher or adult within the Lexington Public School system to expose our sons to any sexual orientation or homosexual material or same-sex unions between parents."
The Lexington Schools refused to even offer a compromise. The Anti-Bias Committee went further and informed the Parkers that their "parental rights assertion would not be honored or respected [at the school]." In addition, they informed them that books on gay families and issues would be in every classroom.
Mr. Parker then testified before the Lexington School Committee, but was coldly rebuked. So after being stalled, ignored and denied for many months, the Parkers had yet another meeting with school officials. Only this time they refused to leave until the school department acceded to their request. But the principal and superintendent wouldn't budge. They finally ordered Mr. Parker out of his child's school, and when he refused, they called the police and had him hauled away in handcuffs to the local jail, where he spent the night.
The next day, Mr. Parker was arraigned in Concord District Court where a large array of media showed up, along with gay activists to protest him. Then the local campaign against him began. A local lesbian activist formed a group ironically titled "Lexington Cares" to monitor, protest against and ultimately harass David Parker and his supporters into submission, or force them to leave town.
On the first anniversary of his arrest, a large rally was held on the Lexington Green in support of Mr. Parker. Counter-protestors showed up and tried to intimidate them. Among them were members of the Lexington School Committee, selectmen and scores of local school children carrying anti-Parker signs. The police finally had to escort Mr. Parker away as the counter-protestors started to surround and threaten him.
About a year later, on the second anniversary of the legalization of gay marriage, a group of boys from his son's elementary school cornered the boy and beat him mercilessly. The school department dismissed it as an isolated incident. Mr. Parker issued a terse statement shortly afterwards, "We know that lesbian activist mothers and vehement anti-David Parker parents are spewing hateful, inflaming rhetoric - probably to their children. Are their children acting out their parents hate? You can be certain that if this happened to a child with homosexual parents more would have been made of this, and 'lessons' teaching tolerance and diversity of homosexual behavior would have been forced upon the young children."
So far in Newton there have been no similar incidents of children of conservative activists assaulted or parental opponents of gay marriage led away in handcuffs ... yet. At Newton North, recently two boys were suspended from school for three days for jokingly calling each other fruitcakes. Another boy was threatened with expulsion because a teacher thought he called another teacher a fag. (He actually called him a nag). Last year two parents were threatened with arrest because they refused to leave an assembly on North's annual To Be GLAD Day (i.e., gay and lesbian awareness day).
The list is mounting, but it's still a far cry from the lunacy in Lexington. And despite my complaints about the Newton School Committee, I still can't picture any of them parading around with signs against conservative parents, as Lexington School Committee members have done against David Parker on Lexington Green.
Lexington is sort of where Newton was 10 years ago. Today the Newton school administration could never get away with what the Lexington schools did to David Parker, mainly because the press and public wouldn't stand for it.
And while it's reasonable to assume that there are a lot more gay teachers and administrators here in Newton than in Lexington, few parents would really care were it not for the observation that Superintendent Young seems obsessed with hiring gay personnel - black or white, young or old - it doesn't matter, so long as they're gay.
Yet the controversy arises when these educators divert from what they're paid to do - teach our children reading, writing and arithmetic- and instead try to affirm their lifestyles in the classroom to even the smallest of children.
So the next time the English teacher chooses to devote class time to promoting gay marriage instead of Shakespeare and Dickens, she has only herself to blame when parents complain and students rebel. Whining accusations of intolerance don't fly here anymore.
This is Newton, not Lexington. There is a difference...for now.