Posted 3:50 PM 6/8/2012 : Illinois school board objects to book that includes same-sex parents
(NBC) - One page in a book about families has caused an uproar in Erie, Illinois.
In May the Erie School Community District banned, 'The Family Book,' because of a page that says "some families have two moms or two dads".
It was banned after parents complained to the school board.
Now, a national debate over diversity and freedom of speech has swelled over the Internet.
600 people have signed an online petition demanding that the school district reconsider the decision, with supporters coming from California to Florida.
Erie School District Superintendent Brad Cox says when the school board made its decision there was a consensus in town to get rid of it.
"At our April board meeting, we had between 75 to 100 people show up, which is quite a few, and the vast majority who spoke at that board meeting spoke in opposition of the materials," Cox said.
He explained that the district used the book and lesson plans from the Gay-Lesbian-Straight Education Network to teach elementary students about diversity and tolerance, but when the complaints came in a committee was formed to take a closer look at the materials.
"If you look at 'The Family Book,' you can tell it's done for elementary age children. It's a lot of colored pages, and one line sentences," said Materials Selection Committee member Joe Weaver. "We found them to be appropriate for the setting they were being used," he added.
That conclusion failed to hold back a vocal majority opposed to the book, so the school district is now looking for new learning tools to replace it.
In the meantime, the town of about 1,600 is being pulled into a national debate.
"If a person really wants their children to read something like that, it's alright and there's a place for it. It should be up to you," said one Erie resident.
"By the time we got to middle school and high school it was already too late. People were already getting criticized because they were different. If we'd have known sooner, we wouldn't be that critical about it," said another.
"Back in the day, we didn't have families with two moms or two dads but now that's a thing that's here to stay, and people need to deal with it. It's reality," said another Erie resident.
The practice of banning books in schools is really nothing new.
The Harry Potter books have been banned from some schools and the classic storybook, Grimm's Fairy Tales, is banned from elementary schools across the country.
The author of The Family Book, Todd Parr, says the book has been out for ten years and this is the first time there's been any controversy.
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