"Coming Out Day" reference causes uproar

October 23, 2008 8:30:00 PM PDT
Adila Voelker read about it in a newsletter sent home by her daughter's kindergarten teacher; listed under "dates to remember," a note that Thursday, Oct. 23 would mark "National Coming Out Day" at the Faith Ringgold School of Art and Science.

"She does not need to learn about historical figures in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community," Voelker said. "She needs to work on her writing, she needs to work on her reading, she does not need to know this."

Voelker kept her daughter home from school Thursday.

But the whole issue is a misunderstanding, according to school Principal Dana Levy.

"[Teacher Tara Miller] was going to be having a discussion with the GSA, the Gay-Straight Alliance which are 6th, 7th, 8th graders; age appropriate for middle schoolers, nothing for the younger kids," Levy said.

National Coming Out Day is celebrated on Oct. 11 in honor of gay and lesbian rights.

One parent of a former student told ABC7 that last year, Miller showed a film depicting gay families to her kindergarteners, without first notifying parents. Levy, who is new to the school, could not confirm the parent's story.

Miller's Thursday's discussion with the GSA did take place as scheduled. Miller did not respond to ABC7's request for an interview.

Some parents are supportive of Miller's teaching style.

"I thought she was a very good teacher," parent and classroom volunteer Henry Funke said. "I noticed some of the displays when I came through last year with the principal; some of the things they were doing in the class were very nice."

Levy met with parents Thursday and said she would be reviewing the proposed curriculum, but she and the Hayward Unified School District are standing behind Miller.

But Voelker is now worried about another event listed on Miller's newsletter. On Nov. 20, the class is scheduled to have a "gender-bender read aloud - Jane and the Beanstalk."


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