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Posted on November 25, 2012 12:48 am
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Yasar Bodur
Yasar Bodur
Reps: 614
Problematic Book Collection
I got in trouble because of the books I have in my 2nd grade classroom library. I have been an elementary school teacher for 10 years. Recently, I completed my masterís degree in education. In the masterís program, I learned about the importance of teaching children about different people, different cultures, and different perspectives. Although I am not a big fan of gays and lesbians, I learned to accept them as another group of people in the society that need recognition as anyone else does. So, I decided to include in my classroom library books that included families with two moms or two dads. I have had books with single-parent families, interracial families, families with a mother and a father. So, I thought by including books depicting gay and lesbian families, I was being more inclusive and representing all family types in the society. I believe children should learn that there are families out there that are not like the families they have been seeing and children should learn to respect such families. However, I learned recently that not everyone agrees with me. I have been criticized openly by some of my colleagues. More recently, some parents sent angry letters to me and to the school principal describing their displeasure with my book collection. More specifically, they think I am trying to teach their children to become gays and lesbians. How am I going to handle all these pressures? What would you do?
 
     
     
 
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Solution 1
Posted December 7, 2012 10:02 pm

Jessica Jacobs Graham
Jessica Jacobs Graham
Reps: 116
This can be a very controversial subject with parents. I think I would have discussed this with team members or even the principal before putting them in the classroom. Different schools and areas can have funny "rules" or ideas about such things. Ultimately, I would want my principal to have my back if controversy over such an issue arouse, instead of him or her being blindsided. Many parents will go straight to the principal before talking to the teacher and you want him or her on your side.
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Solution 2
Posted December 7, 2012 9:12 am

Adam Vandenhouten
Adam Vandenhouten
Reps: 97
I also support your decision to include these books. Parents and teachers alike need to ask themselves what would happen if you did have a student come to your school who had two mommies or daddies, if the student was bi-racial, or didn't have one or the other parent. The lack of exposure to these different types of family situations is what begins the cycle of bullying and picking on other kids who are different. I think as long as the book isn't directly discussing these different family styles and just includes pictures of different family types, they are harmless. You are not trying to influence these children to act one way or the other, but only showing them the multicultural world they live in. If you have a parent who opposes these books, have them create/fill out/sign a form saying their child is not allowed to read these books in your class and you can just make sure that student doesn't read them. I feel like the parents should have the right to choose, especially if they strongly disagree with your methods, but that you shouldn't back down from your stand on this issue either.
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Solution 3
Posted December 7, 2012 3:22 pm

Jessica DeLaigle
Jessica DeLaigle
Reps: 110
I think you are doing exactly what they are all asking us to do as teachers: promote a diverse education to our students. In your book area, you want books that are about your children. If you have a blended family, there should be books about blended families. If there are gay parents, there needs to be books about families with gay parents. I think you're doing exactly what you should be doing. I would explain to the parents that reading them a book with parents that are gay is not going to turn them gay or teach them to be gay any more than the Big Green Monster book is going to teach them how to be a monster. I would just talk to them and explain your reasoning behind having the books, not to mention, you could also show research and statistics.. that usually helps!
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Solution 4
Posted December 8, 2012 4:32 pm

Laine Vilardi
Laine Vilardi
Reps: 119
I think that it is important that we teach children/our students to be accepting and understanding of others no matter what the circumstances may be. The fact is, we have students walk into our classrooms and schools that come from all walks of life. I would agree with your school administration in that 2nd grade is just too early to have things like that accessible in a classroom book collection.
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yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
Second grade is too early to teach children to be accepting of others? I disagree.
  Posted on: October 3, 2016 5:08 pm

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Solution 5
Posted April 18, 2013 6:54 pm

ryZuSa
ryZuSa
Reps: 99
Censorship is something I too have been taught about in my master program for Elementary Education, and my views on it align much with yours, even knowing there are some topics I'm certainly not too familiar with or comfortable with. With the "minority" population growing and predicted to surpass today's majority, not including a broad and inclusive cultural literature selection is an injustice to our students. Nonetheless, in dealing with pressures from administration and class parents, perhaps sending home a book list at the beginning of the year, outlining the types of cultures to be featured in your classroom library, would allow parents to have the knowledge and option to voice their hesitations/concerns prior to it becoming an issue. If concern is raised, note by which students' parents, and omit those topics from read aloud/whole group type instruction.
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Solution 6
Posted April 18, 2013 7:47 pm

Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Powers
Reps: 105
I support your decision on wanting to give the students in your classroom an open mind. Although, I wouldn't exactly put it completely out there right away with a book. I think you should have gradually brought the topic up and see how others would react. Co-workers are not always going to believe in your methods and vice versa. The parents would be my main concern. A topic like this can be back fired and confuse the young students. A way for this topic to be taken positive would be running it by the school board and see how they react. It may not play out well for you this year but theres always next year and the year after.
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Solution 7
Posted December 5, 2012 8:35 pm

Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams
Reps: 118
I support your ideas and your attempt to incorporate the knowledge of same sex families into your classroom. However, I think that for second grade you may be trying to incorporate this knowledge too fast. I think before you included these books in your collection you could have sent home a letter of consent to the parents to ask if they wanted their children to be exposed to the material. Although it is something that every child needs to learn about eventually, second grade may be too soon. Even though you aren't trying to teach the children to be gays and lesbians, young children are going to most likely mock whatever they see in any book. So this is where the parents are thinking you are teaching their children to be gays and lesbians is probably coming from. I think that although it was a great idea the steps leading up to including the books into your collection were not taken correctly.
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yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
I don't think it's every too early to teach children to be good people. Would you send home a letter asking parents if it were ok for you to have books featuring people of color? No. That's ridiculous. Why would it be any different for LGBT+ people? If you think students would mock people who are different from them in books, this is a sign that you should keep the books! This is a great opportunity to teach the children to be more accepting. They will not learn this when they are older unless someone teaches them.
  Posted on: October 3, 2016 5:11 pm

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Solution 8
Posted December 8, 2012 4:43 pm

Ariane Anderson
Ariane Anderson
Reps: 114
I think that your decision to add books that have same sex parents is an awesome way to inform the students on diversity. Explain to the parents that you are not trying to teach your students to become gay or a lesbian. Give details on the importance of teaching children about different people, different cultures, and different perspectives. If the parents do not want their children reading books with same sex parents you have to respect their wishes.
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Solution 9
Posted December 9, 2012 7:47 pm

Linda Swinson
Linda Swinson
Reps: 107
You may wont to consider pulling the book. I think that first you should have talked with the principal at the school and then sent a letter home with the children to have the parent decide if they wanted their child to read or how they felt about the book being present in the class. Then you could have decided on the issue at hand.
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yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
Never shy away from doing the right think just because you face adversity.
  Posted on: October 3, 2016 5:12 pm

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Solution 10
Posted November 30, 2012 4:25 pm

Meredith Hein
Meredith Hein
Reps: 139
I fully support your idea of being open minded towards all types of families, but I do understand it may be a difficult concept for children in 2nd grade. I think that's important to stay true to yourself and so long as your intentions are not malicious and trying to persuade children in different ways. I would keep the books (so long as they are age-appropriate). I think there are many people in this country, regardless of their age, that are uncomfortable with the idea of gays and lesbians. You will have to stay calm while discussing this issue with colleagues and parents. A way to try to show the positive affects of these books would be to state if a child was being made fun of because of their "different" family and the books help all of the students understand.
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Solution 11
Posted December 5, 2012 8:36 pm

Savanna Hayman
Savanna Hayman
Reps: 104
I think that although this is a difficult situation, as a teacher you are a member of a community that these students belong to- a community that is not going to shelter these students as their parents have. Same-sex marriages are becoming more and more common every day and it is not your job to pretend as if that isn't the case. These students need somebody that is realistic and honest about the world around them.
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Solution 12
Posted December 8, 2012 9:42 pm

John Buxton
John Buxton
Reps: 114
I disagree with your decision to include these books in your library. If you were dealing with high school students this might be acceptable, but not the second grade. Homosexuality is not a topic to be discussed in the 2nd grade. These children do not understand relationships or sex at this age. Avoid the issue and let their middle school teachers deal with it. Adding these books to your collection was a poor decision on your part.
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Solution 13
Posted December 3, 2012 2:32 pm

David Sanders
David Sanders
Reps: 143
I think you are absorbed in your own value system and clearly oblivious to the needs of your children and their parents. Especially in the 2nd grade where children know nothing about sex, exposure to homosexual lifestyles can be damaging to the impressionable mind. I am surprised you don't have a book by NAMBLA or other alternative lifestyle seekers. I really concerns me that you don't see the problem.
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yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
Exposing children to LGBT+ lifestyles is not damaging. Being LGBT+ is more than just sex, it's about love. Comparing LGBT+ people to NAMBLA is truly offensive and means you don't understand what you're talking about. It concerns me that you think this is a problem and that you are an educator of children.
  Posted on: October 3, 2016 5:15 pm

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Solution 14
Posted December 6, 2012 7:56 pm

Jill Graff
Jill Graff
Reps: 104
As long as they are age appropriate books there is nothing wrong having them in your classroom. If you are not pressuring kids to read them and they are just there if they want to look at them then it is just fine for them to be there. Are you saying you like dogs better just because you have Clifford the Big Red dog on your shelf or cats because you have Garfield, no they are just there because they are appropriate books for the grade level to read. Because this is becoming a "normal" thing in society they are exposed to this and if they are a child of a gay or lesbian couple then it is just one more way to show that they are OK.
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Solution 15
Posted December 9, 2012 12:41 pm

Anna Washinger
Anna Washinger
Reps: 121
I support the idea and meaning behind your book collection. You are trying to bring an awareness to your students about same sex marriages. You could possibly even have a student with two moms or two dads. And yes, children this young are aware of homosexuality. I know this to be true because I have seen more than one situation where a child in elementary had two fathers or two mothers and his/her classmates were fully aware. However, this is such a controversial topic and I can see where parents and colleagues would be uncomfortable with these books in the classroom. Even though some students are aware of homosexuality, 2nd graders are still young and some parents of your students may not have discussed that particular topic with their children yet. Therefore, they may not find the idea of their child discovering it in a book very comforting or appropriate. I think it may be best to remove the books from your classroom in respect for your students and their families. Letting them discuss homosexuality with their own families is to me, the more appropriate method.
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Solution 16
Posted October 3, 2016 5:31 pm

yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
I think including books that represent LGBT+ lifestyles is a wonderful idea! Children need to be exposed to cultures that are different than their own at young ages. Hatred and discrimination do not come naturally to children; these are learned behaviors. Homosexuality is not some complex topic that children don't understand. It is simply when one person loves someone of the same gender. That's not that complicated.

The children whose parents disagree with including LGBT+ friendly book in the classroom are the children who need these books the most. Never shy away from doing the right thing in the face of adversity.

You should treat LGBT+ people just like any other minority. Would you send a not home asking parents if it were ok to have books portraying African American children? Would you stop teaching that Jewish are people too just because a parent objected? No. Why is a sexual minority any different from a religious or racial minority?

Many people pointed out that some children in the class might have two moms or two dads. This is a very valid point. However, no one pointed out that some children in the class might be LGBT+ themselves. Crushes develop at very early ages. 7 year olds are not immune to getting butterflies in their stomachs around pretty people. Removing these books from the classroom would tell these children that their feelings are not ok. This is extremely damaging and could contribute to a lifetime of self-hatred.

Sometimes, I believe that the battle for equality is mostly over. Then I read comments like these and realize that is far from the truth. Schools need more LGBT+ teachers to show children that people of sexual minorities are just that: people.
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Solution 17
Posted February 20, 2015 5:20 pm

SeguHu
SeguHu
Reps: 96
It is always about pleasing the parents. I understand that there is often a clash between parent's wishes and what is best for the student. I always believe in helping the students and expanding their world, but at that young of an age, you really have to follow the parent's wishes. Hopefully, your students are initiating reading and picking their own books. However, if you see them going for those books, tell them to pick something different. Those books should still be available for students whose parents are not complaining.
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Solution 18
Posted December 7, 2012 2:06 pm

Jessica Oglesby
Jessica Oglesby
Reps: 110
I understand your willingness to be so inclusive on this matter, however I understand that this is a very contraversial topic. I would have done an inventory of the relationships of the parents that I teach before including these books. If there were parents that were lesbian or gay couples of students in my classroom then I would have included the books in my classroom library. I would then justify any conversations that came to me or about me with the fact that their are students in my classroom that can relate to these books.
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Solution 19
Posted December 8, 2012 2:25 pm

areli saucedo
areli saucedo
Reps: 119
Wow, I actually agree with the parents and principal. I don't by any means discriminate gays or lesbians, however you should not be having these kind of books in your school. Seriously, your teaching 2nd grade, not high school. If my daughter were to tell me that her teacher has books that reflect that being gay or lesbian is okay, I would also be very disturbed. It's one thing to accept this matter and its a whole different thing to encourage it. You might not be directly encouraging this type of behavior, however by having these kind of books, you are indirectly doing so.
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yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
You can't really encourage someone to have a certain sexuality. You're not encouraging anyone to do anything by doing this. You say you don't discriminate, but that you don't think being LGBT+ is ok. That's discrimination.
  Posted on: October 3, 2016 5:22 pm

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