ERIE, Ill. — After hearing empassioned comments from members of the Erie community at a special meeting Thursday night, the Erie School Board stood by its decision to seek new anti-bullying materials for use in grades K-4.

In May, board members voted 5-2 to remove materials that were being used, which were developed by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, after parents requested they be reviewed. The district’s materials selection committee reviewed the materials and found them to be age-appropriate, but the board voted against the recommendation of the committee.

Among the materials the board voted to remove was the book “The Family Book,” by Todd Parr. There were concerns about a statement in the book that some families include two moms or two dads.

“The board listened to the people of the district,” school board president Charles Brown told the more than 140 people who packed the middle school cafeteria for the special meeting.

Brown advised the audience that the board “did not ban any books or materials from the school.”

“We chose to get other teaching materials from another place,” he said.

Brown added that Thursday’s special meeting was called because some parents and members of the community believed their voices were not being heard. When the public comment session ended, board members decided not to reopen discussion on their decision and adjourned the meeting.

In all, about 15 people spoke on both sides of the issue during the 45-minute meeting.

Stacy Bomleny was one of about a dozen people in the audience who wore stickers that said, “Teach Tolerance.”

“To my understanding, the disagreement is whether sexual orientation should be taught in school,” she said to the crowd. “While I fully support and agree that the teaching of any sexual-based content should be taught at home, the banned book and curriculum does not teach sexuality of any sort.

“It teaches children to respect and accept each other’s differences. The entire lesson is an anti-bullying campaign.

“I don’t want my child so sheltered from diversity that either he falls victim to someone’s intolerance, or he is the one who hurts someone,” Bomleny said.

Mindy Jepson told the audience that it is not up to the school to teach her children about diverse lifestyles. If parents need help in that regard, they can contact the school counselor for advice, she added.

“I’m all for anti-bullying,” Jepson said. But teaching diversity at the elementary level should not include sexual orientation.

“We as parents are ultimately responsible for what our children become,” she added.

Chad Von Holten said while anti-bullying and respect should be taught in the schools, it should not “be muddied up with a pro-homosexual agenda.”

Jason Norman said it is not up to the school to teach about same-sex relationships.

“As parents we want to guide what our kids are taught, especially when it comes to sexuality,” he said.

Chris Von Holten said he and his wife are responsible for teaching their children about sexuality when the proper time comes. “I don’t want to teach the birds and the bees until they’re older,” he said.

Jason Orman, who teaches social studies at Erie High School, said he sees bullying every day and hears the slurs some students use toward others.

“Elementary school is the proper time to teach tolerance,” he said.

As for the school board seeking new anti-bullying materials, he added, “Censorship leads to more censorship.”

Karen Carlson, a resident of Erie and a teacher in another school district, told the audience that selecting appropriate materials for teaching and meeting parents’ expectations “is a tough line to walk.”

“We can come to a compromise,” Carlson said. “Now, compromise won’t satisfy everybody. I do see bullying every day. But we can find common ground.”

School board member Mike Heun told the audience that he thought the meeting would help him determine a consensus of community opinion.

It didn’t, he said, pointing to the crowd and saying it appeared to be split 50-50.

Sean Leads, 20, who graduated from Erie High School in 2011, said after the meeting that as an openly gay student at the school, he was bullied.

“But even people who weren’t gay were bullied,” he said.

“I’m disappointed the board didn’t change its decision.”

Locations

(32) comments

Average Joe

I thought Neanderthal man was extinct; Chad Van Holten has proven otherwise.

Yardbird

I'm waiting for the fire engine from the book "Fahrenheit 451" to arrive and the firemen to gather up all of these books, take them outside and burn them using the flamwthrower on the fire engine.
Remember to thank a teacher because you can read, and thank a serviceman for preserving your right to read it.

katara

The Salem Witchcraft Trials 1692 are about the same as this simple minded homophobia stuff.
I educate my kids about the "No No" stuff so their friends don't . They're going to see it on TV when your not looking anyway. Tell them the TRUTH.. Your neighborhood of 'make believe' is just that.............

Devin H
Devin H

Well, it gave the book some good free publicity.

Wasteline

Has anyone noticed the state of Illinois is broke?
Have you noticed your property taxes going up?
Have you noticed cut's in education?
Is this issue really a priority?

Looks like a good place to start cutting.

just_a_voice

Right, because we need to have a bunch of ignorant, bigoted fools. If you can't get along with people, you can't get a job and work and make deceent money. That's why we need good education, and be tolerant of others. Ever wake up to a cross burning on your lawn? Until you do, Shut up about not teachiing tolerance. You apparently are lacking in that skill.

myself
myself

QUT TROLLING!

Wasteline

Jason Orman, who teaches social studies at Erie High School, said he sees bullying every day and hears the slurs some students use toward others.

“Elementary school is the proper time to teach tolerance,” he said.


Why isn't Jason Orman teaching what he's preaching.
Look's like he should have a copy of "The Family Book" it's needed more in his class than kindergarten.

just_a_voice

Seriously? Read the article and what you wrote. He teaches JR/SR High School. He's pointing out that the students have ALREADY learned to be a bigot and to hate. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows you have to teach at an early age.

Black Panther

I just enjoy reading the comments because those who seem to preach tolerance the most are very often extremely intolerant of those who disagree with them (not evolved, stuck in the 19th century, stupid). Maybe there is hypocrisy not only in the Christian community, but in the open minded 'tolerant' community as well.

rdclfmnst
rdclfmnst

I don't object to anyone praying in school, or giving a difference of opinion. I believe it is important to present children with options and information so they can make decisions about their lives on their own. By presenting the realities that MOST families don't follow the one-partner-for-life nuclear model, you are opening the conversation toward genuine tolerance and educating children in reality. Not "should-be's". The fallacy of "should" leads to social confusion and poor adaptability.

Over taxed

You are quite perceptive, newbie. Welcome. Flip through a few old posts and you'll see a pattern.

Alphamale

Getting a little crazy here, isn't it? Some people just don't think the proper place to teach this is at the public school. Can't people choose to raise their kids in their own manner without it always being labeled bigotry? Demonization is the rule of the day if you disagree. You can't just have another view of things, it has to be labeled in the worst possible way.

Less Bias
Less Bias

And if this particular debate was about whether we should be teaching the morality of a particular issue, I might agree. But this book for small children was age appropriate. It made no mention of why a person might have two moms, or two dads (second marriage, same-sex marriage, adoption, etc.) - it simply pointed out the *fact* that some children have more than one. So if it's age-appropriate, (confirmed by the audit), and it's stating facts instead of opinions, then what, aside from bigotry, could possibly be your reason for not wanting *any* children to learn about this in school?

Alphamale

You just don't get it, and you never will. It is about whether the parents have the right to make the call about what, when and how their kids learn about this stuff. Why do you ALWAYS have to point the finger and make accusations of bigotry?

rdclfmnst
rdclfmnst

This is the same district that allows "Catcher in the Rye" despite it's language....and the parents didn't put up a flap....
Alpha, you know this is about "ew, gays!" It has nothing to do with parental rights and everything to do with taking a single sentence out of a book and making into something it's not (i.e. sexual). The parents who are protesting have minds as narrow as yours and just as bigoted. I grew up there and that is the truth about it.

rdclfmnst
rdclfmnst

If it isn't proper to "teach this..at the public school", why aren't the parents yelling about the book teaching obvious heterosexuality? If, as noted in the article, the sentence about two moms and two dads is "teaching" homosexuality, then everything else is teaching the other, isn't it? Sexuality is not limited to only one - isn't heterosexuality a form of sexuality as well? By focusing on homosexuality, and promoting it as somehow deviant, it allows the larger society to ignore the fact that they, too, have sexuality. It's not bad or dirty or something to hide - it just is!

Asylum
Asylum

Just goes to show.....You can't fix stupid.

theoutsider

...once again..parents are making such a big issue out of this book. It says some kids have two moms and 2 dads...if you ask an elementary child what this means they will no doubt tell you..they have a mom and dad at one house and a mom and dad at their other house!! It is that simple..divorce....not meaning they have gay parents. How many of them are going to say..because my mom loves another women or dad loves another man?? Too bad these kids will not learn any tolerence because they have parents who don't understand the meaning of the word. It is a great book and should be left on the library shelf!!

bbnguy815

I wonder how many people are gay who went to Erie schools, had to deal with bullies and have moved away from this community. I bet it's more than what some might think.

JMHO

Doesn't make it right, Twiggy:

http://www.openbible.info/topics/man_shall_not_lay_with_man

Less Bias
Less Bias

Please take an hour or so to read the entire book of Leviticus. You'll soon realize that, according to it, everyone should be put to death. We've all eaten shellfish, or had premarital sex, or shared a bed with our wife during her period, or worn clothes made from two types of fabric, or had an affair, or gotten drunk, or lusted over a neighbor, etc. If you're citing the Bible because you're a Christian, please take another 3 seconds to read what Christ himself had to say about homosexuality.

just_a_voice

Is Erie an island unto itself? Doesn't the constitution guarantee separation of church and state? I realy don't care what your opinion site, openbible.info, has to say. it doesn't match what other religioins believe. And, shock and disbelief, not every religion uses te bible. Think Hindi, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslims.....and let's not forget the atheists.

We all know gay people exist, even in Erie. We know there are homosexual couples living in erie. We don't know, however, if your interpretation of the bible comes close to what is real.

opie1
opie1

Only a tiny percentage of humanity is evolving. Well over half of what's left is devolving.

Welcome to the 19th century, Erie.

Contemptio

I remember the good old days, when you could read a Playboy at the Bettendorf Public Library.

shadowcatz23

Is the bible banned in this school district? Because if it is not, it should be. I mean how can we let our kids read the amount of hate that is taught in it. Not to mention the fact of 13 guys constantly together, with no women....seems kinda strange.
And Yes this is Sarcasm.... Banning books is totally wrong, if you don't agree with it, don't read it.

Alphamale

Of course it is. The Bible is banned in every school district and you already know it. Just how would the kids avoid reading the book if the teacher is using it in the classroom?

just_a_voice

What a load of BS. It's not banned in ANY school district. Call any of them. You really aren't playing with a full order of fries, are you?

We have this marvelous invention, the librrary. They have what is called BOOKS. Books like the Bible, quran, and thousands of others. Ask your kids and grandkids, if you can't use the phone.

kerry

often wonders what goes on in the homes of these families with two anti gay heterosexual parents or one anti gay heterosexual parent or just heterosexual parents. Lots of children grow up in these homes learning different kinds of abuse are ok.. and normal even.

twiggy
twiggy

What a backward looking group of people. Time to enter the 21st century folks. Some families DO have two moms or two dads, even in Erie. Their kids deserve validation too.

getinvolved

Totally agree.

twiggy
twiggy

What a backward looking group of people. It's time to enter the 21st century folks. Some families actually DO have two moms or two dads, even in Erie!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.