Posts Tagged ‘bullying’

This Black Gay Third Grade Teacher Under Fire Should Be NC’s Teacher of the Year!

Mr. Omar Currie, holding the book he read to his third grade class, should be a leading candidate for NC Teacher of the Year! (photo washingtonpost.com)

Mr. Omar Currie, holding the book he read to his third grade class, should be a leading candidate for NC Teacher of the Year! (photo washingtonpost.com)


UPDATE June 16th: Since I published this blog, the teacher and vice-principal who supported him have resigned (link to latest newspaper article.) Gladly, Mr. Currie has already gone on several interviews and I am sure this outstanding teacher will find a great position.

This blog is a follow on to my blog of May 17th titled “Some Princes Don’t Care Much For Princesses – So What’s the Big Deal?”

This news story in rural Efland, North Carolina continues to drag on. After a boy in his third grade class was bullied for exhibiting some feminine characteristics and “gay” was used in negative sense, third grade teacher Mr. Omar Currie used the episode as a teaching lesson. He read the children’s fable “King and King” in which a prince falls in love and marries another prince instead of a princess.

After a few parents (and even non-parents who have no children at the school) protested and filed a complaint, the principal took the middle road; she established a new policy that teachers must notify parents of all books they read in class. Instead, the principal should have been more bold by standing 100% behind Mr. Currie and facing these critics with strong words that the world is a diverse place and people cannot expect everyone to be just like them.

Instead of ignoring bullying, teachers and administrators needs to address it with proactive thoughtful action as Mr. Currie did.

Instead of ignoring bullying, teachers and administrators needs to address it with proactive thoughtful action as Mr. Currie did.


Let’s examine Mr. Currie’s record. We read so much about the lack of male minority elementary school teachers in our classrooms. Now we have a bright graduate from one of the best education undergraduate programs in the country (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill) teaching third grade in a rural school. At the beginning of the school year, only 2 of his 24 students were reading at their grade level; at the end of the year that improved to 18 being at grade level, and two are even reading two grades above their level. And when a name-calling and bullying issue emerged in his classroom, instead of ignoring it, Mr. Currie taught his children through the reading of a fable that there are all kinds of families in the world, and that all people should be treated respectfully. What a fantastic lesson to help prepare our children for global leadership in business, education and the community!

Instead of adding a new arduous rule which will add to teacher workload and open up disgruntled parents to complaining about books read in school, the principal (and the superintendent and the school board for that matter) should show some courage.

First, they should submit Mr. Currie for North Carolina teacher of the year! Here is a minority male elementary school teacher and role model who delivered astonishing improvements in his class’s reading level and addressed tough issues in a modern enlightened way.

Second, they should issue a strong statement to this minority of local people and call them on their bigotry…. perhaps a statement such as, “We stand 100% behind Mr. Currie and his decision to read ‘King and King’ to his class. He is an outstanding teacher who is delivering results in the classroom, and he addressed a tough situation with the appropriate action. Futhermore, we firmly reject these complaints from a minority of detractors; they need to address their own bigotry and understand we live in a diverse world with many different types of people and families, and our children need to grow up with that understanding. Their complaints do nothing but undermine the work of our educators and harm our children and community.”

Let’s stand strong in the face of small-minded bigoted people; and instead of waffling let’s educate them on diversity in our community. And let’s support Omar Currie for Teacher of the Year!

Some Princes Don’t Care Much For Princesses – So What’s the Big Deal?

The queen was quite concerned that all the other princes in their region were married, but her son Prince Bertie was not.

The queen was quite concerned that all the other princes in their region were married, but her son Prince Bertie was not.

Please see the several links to additional blogs and resources at the bottom of this short blog.

In the May 15th Raleigh News and Observer, front page, was a story (link) about third grade teacher, Mr. Omar Currie, who got into hot water for reading the book “King and King” by Dutch authors Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland to his third grade class in rural Efland, North Carolina. Mr. Currie read this delightful book to his class after a boy was being bullied in his classroom and the word “gay” was used in a negative sense. (NOTE: follow up newspaper article on the subsequent public hearing.)

This book is a classic fairy tale about Prince Bertie, who is single despite his mother’s wish that he find a princess to marry. After the queen issues an invitation to the world’s princesses to come meet her eligible bachelor prince son and Bertie meets a very diverse set of princesses from all corners of the globe, he finally (and bravely) declares to his mother, “I’ve never cared much for princesses.” Luckily, Prince Bertie meets Price Lee, and they fall in love and get married.

Good news!  Prince Bertie finally meet Prince Lee, they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after.

Good news! Prince Bertie finally meet Prince Lee, they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after.


Now a local resident who does not even have a child enrolled in the school with a few other local parents are raising a fuss about the “inappropriateness” of the book. So I ask, what is so inappropriate about reading one single children’s book that features a same-gender couple? Here are 3 important short points:

1. Same gender (or gay) marriage is now a reality in 21st century USA and in many countries around the world including Europe and Latin America. A majority of US states now have same-gender marriage and more than likely it will be a nationwide reality after the US Supreme Court issues a final ruling on this matter in late June. And even Mr. Currie states that several students in his school have two moms or two dads. Shouldn’t those families be included in stories as well as all others?

2. Schools must address bullying and foster diversity. When a girl is bullied for being a “tomboy”, or a boy is bullied for being a little feminine, or a child is bullied for being multi-racial, or has a disability, or two mommies or two daddies, the school must address it. Children need to be taught early and often that bullying is always wrong and that all people should be respected and valued.

Third grade teacher Omar Currie acknowledges applause in response to his impassioned speech at a community hearing. Photo: Harry Lynch, hlynch@newsobserver.com

Third grade teacher Omar Currie acknowledges applause in response to his impassioned speech at a community hearing. Photo: Harry Lynch, hlynch@newsobserver.com


3. Teaching about different ways of life does not diminish or detract from anyone! Mr. Currie estimates he reads 500 books in a typical school year to his class. So one book out of 500 features a same-gender couple. That in no way takes away from opposite gender couples or single parents families that may be portrayed in the other 499 books! People need to get over feeling threatened by people who are not exactly like them.

In closing, I would like to salute the enlightened teacher Mr. Omar Currie for doing the right thing in his class. Let’s all emulate Mr. Currie and support diversity of all kinds of families in our schools, business settings, churches and communities!

* * * * *

Additional blogs and resources:

Blog about LGBT bullying and hate speech.

Blog about a leading anti-bullying non-profit, the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

Connection to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), resources for promoting equality and protection of all LGBT students in schools at all grade levels.

Blog with two scenarios of schoolyard bullying eventually impacting workplace harassment.

Blog about LGBT diversity and bullying in the sports world.

Website with resources on hate crimes.

Blog with link to an organization about being an ally to the LGBT community.

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