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An open letter to David Parker
Susan Ryan-Vollmar
[email protected]

Dear David,

I've never met you. But from what little I know about you, I can safely say that we have a lot in common. You live in Lexington — a town you chose, in part, because of its great schools. I recently moved to Arlington for the same reason.

You're married. I'm married. You're a father of two. I'm a mother of two. I'd bet anything that the three happiest days of your life were the day you married and the days your sons were born.

It wouldn't surprise me if you've spent a fair amount of time in restaurants that sell Happy Meals. You probably have Spiderman band-aids in your medicine cabinet. T. Berry Brazelton, William Sears and Richard Ferber are not unfamiliar names to you.

We've both been started awake from deep sleeps by hungry babies. We've both experienced the exquisite joy of first words, first steps and first haircuts. We've both felt an almost other-worldly anger when others have questioned our family values.

From this place of common ground, I'd like to offer you some advice: start putting your children first.

Your passion for your sons is admirable. You don't want them exposed to ideas that you think would be harmful to them. You've had heated exchanges with school officials about their education. You've engaged in civil disobedience to make your point. And you've filed a federal lawsuit to drive that point home.

But this month you let Brian Camenker, a fringe anti-gay activist, publish lies on his website about a playground incident your eldest son was involved in. You let Brian publish your son's name. And you yourself have made claims about the school yard scuffle that both your son and his friends know to be untrue.

Your son was hit by another child on the playground May 17. Brian is claiming that "[i]t cannot be accidental that this happened on May 17 — the two-year anniversary of same-sex 'marriage' in Massachusetts — a day when emotions were particularly high among certain activists."

Yet your son, the child who hit him and other children who witnessed the fight, told school officials the whole thing happened over an argument about who would sit where during lunch in the school cafeteria.

Brian hints that the child who hit your son was not punished by saying that no one "involved" in the incident was "suspended from school." Yet you know that the boy who hit him wrote a letter of apology to your son and was suspended from recess for two days.

And in a statement published on Brian's website, you describe the fight between your son and his friend as a "premeditated, well planned and coordinated … assault." If you really believe your son was the victim of a "premeditated … assault" then why did you recently let him have a playdate at the house of the boy who hit him?

David, I am urging you, with all sincerity, to rethink your actions and your words. You can hold whatever opinion you want about gay people and our desire to marry and raise children. But don't let your deeply held beliefs about families like mine cloud the way you raise yours.

I bet you can't believe that your oldest son is already a first-grader and that your youngest is in kindergarten. They're going to be teenagers before you know it. Don't squander this precious time with them. Stop using them as props in your political activism. Start putting them first.

Sincerely,

Susan Ryan-Vollmar
editor-in-chief, Bay Windows