North Carolina Reads Book About Gay Kings To Class After Student Is Bullied
A North Carolina teacher is drawing both praise and criticism for the way he handled a bullying situation with one of his students.
Omar Currie, 25, teaches third grade at Efland-Cheeks Elementary School in Efland, North Carolina. Three weeks ago, Currie overheard some of his students calling one of their male classmates “gay” and “a woman.” Instead of sending the bullies to the principal’s office, Currie took a different approach: He read his class King & King, a children’s fable by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland that features a same-sex romance.
Currie, who identifies as gay, told The Huffington Post that he wanted to have an honest conversation with his students — whom he affectionately refers to as his “kids” — on how to treat people who may seem different.
“There was a group of boys that had been referring to the child as a girl or a woman, saying ‘OK, woman,’ or ‘OK, girl,’” Currie told HuffPost. He stepped in and addressed the issue, he said, but then it happened again. “This particular child who was being bullied was very, very upset.”
The following day, Currie read his class King & King, a picture book whose main character, a prince, must find a suitor to marry. After meeting with a succession of princesses and feeling no spark, the prince eventually falls in love with another prince. The two wed, becoming kings together, and the book ends with the two kings kissing.
Currie said he knows all too well the pains of being bullied at school. He said the classroom should be a safe environment for all children.
“Every single day in middle school I was called a fa**ot,” he said. “I was called that in front of teachers and no one ever stopped to address the problem. It gave me an understanding that it must be fixed immediately when it happens.”
The school board committee ultimately determined that the book would not be banned, but that in the future, teachers must inform parents about every book they plan to read for their class. Currie said he disagrees with the latter decision, but appreciates the love and support he has received.
Do you think the teacher should have read the book to the class?