OC Schools Cancels Hearing on Gay Children’s Book

Orange County Public Schools canceled the public hearing planned to discuss a gay children’s book. Parents complained after former Efland-Cheeks Elementary teacher Omar Currie read his third-grade class a story about two princes who fall in love.

Orange County Schools had planned the public hearing for parents and other members of the public to debate whether the book “King and King” should be allowed in school. Currie says he chose to read the book in response to homophobic comments one student made towards another.

“The whole ordeal of me reading the book in class lasted at max 20 minutes, and at no moment did I think that it would have risen to this level of public scrutiny or public interest,” Currie said.

Since Currie read the book, parent complaints have forced Efland-Cheeks to review “King and King” twice. After the administration OK’d the book a second time, one family appealed the decision to Orange County Schools, and the public hearing was scheduled. But Schools spokesman Seth Stephens says the hearing was canceled because the appeal has been withdrawn.

“The appellants have withdrawn their appeals,” Stephens said, “and as such the meeting has been cancelled, the school-level decision stands, and this matter is concluded.”

The matter is concluded—yes—but Currie, who submitted his resignation last week, worries the ordeal may be over only because Currie is no longer teaching in Orange County.

“The family who submitted the appeal was the same family who submitted a personal letter trying to get the school district to actually fire me,” Currie told WHCL.

The appeal was withdrawn within a week after Currie stepped down.

While Currie says he is glad the matter has come to a close, he says he’s disappointed Orange County won’t be forced to take a position.

“They have yet to take a position on the issue,” Currie said, “and they have yet to come to affirm that we do want our teachers in our building keeping students safe by reading literature that affirms diversity. And I think that’s kind of dangerous.”

Currie is in the process of finding another teaching job in the Triangle.

Blake Hodge and Elizabeth Friend also contributed reporting to this story. Our call to the family who made the complaint was not returned.


Same-Sex Couples Plan To Register Licenses In NC

CHARLOTTE – Same-sex couples legally married in other states are being encouraged to start registering their documents in North Carolina courthouses.

It’s all part of a new statewide campaign by the Campaign for Southern Equality to draw attention to North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage.

The group says by creating a public record of their relationships, same-sex couples will highlight the reality that they are legally married in the eyes of the federal government, but not North Carolina.

The group’s executive director, the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, says registering marriage licenses will create a public record that demonstrates the couples’ love and commitment.

The call comes one week after Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger became one of the first officials in the South to take marriage license applications from same-sex couples.


Human Rights Group Pushes for Workplace Protection

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A national human rights group is holding a news conference in Charlotte to promote the push to protect gays in the workplace.

The Human Rights Campaign says employees can still be fired for sexual orientation or gender identity.

Tuesday’s news conference comes one day before a U.S. Senate committee takes up the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would ensure that no one could be fired simply because they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

North Carolina’s two senators are on that committee.

Group president Chad Griffin also is planning to discuss landmark decisions on marriage equality handed down last month by the U.S. Supreme Court.