As election day approaches, anti-gay groups are once again scaring voters in other states with ads hinting that Massachusetts indoctrinates young children about same-sex marriage. Maine, Maryland, and Washington will vote Tuesday on measures allowing gay couples to marry, while a ban on such marriages is on the ballot in Minnesota. Ads running in those states feature David and Tonia Parker, who were among a group of parents who unsuccessfully sued school officials in Lexington in 2006 over children’s books that dealt in various ways with same-sex marriage. “After Massachusetts redefined marriage,” David Parker says in a video clip, “local schools taught it to children in second grade.”
Maine voters may remember the Parkers’ case from the last marriage fight in 2009. But voters should also know that Massachusetts is not, in fact, teaching children to read, write, and have same-sex marriages. In 2006, a teacher in Lexington did read second-graders a book about a prince who marries another prince. But it wasn’t a regular subject; a federal circuit court that later reviewed the case noted there was no formal curriculum related to the issue. Meanwhile, some of the other books at issue in Lexington were included in a bag of books about a variety of diversity issues; students were allowed — but not required — to bring it home precisely in an effort to bring parents into the discussion. And the books had previously been made available for parents’ review. Not surprisingly, the scary ads omit these details.
The Lexington litigation was highly unusual, and the scores of other school districts in the state simply haven’t been convulsed with controversy about same-sex marriage. That’s not to say the issue never arises; children increasingly have peers whose parents are married to adults of the same sex, and they’re bound to ask questions. But it’s noteworthy that the one case of pro-gay indoctrination that marriage opponents regularly cite is more than half a decade old — and misleading to boot.