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Michigan school district sends elementary parents notice about gay character in kids' book

Nov 11, 2015

Credit Tim Lauer / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Rockford Public Schools has notified elementary school parents about a short mention of a gay character in a book that will be available at its upcoming Scholastic Book Fair.

According to the district's Nov. 10 letter to parents, the plot of the story has a very brief reference to one of the featured characters traveling 20 years into the future to find he is married to another man. The book is the 12th in the Captain Underpants series and is titled "Captain Underpants and The Sensational Saga of Sir-Stinks-A-Lot." 

"At Rockford Public Schools we value every person that steps foot into our buildings," said the letter. "At the same time we believe that our parents deserve to have the background information related to material that may not align with the values of many families."

The letter added that the book in question is not on the shelves in any of the Rockford elementary libraries.

"In no way, shape, or form are we banning anything," said Mike Shibler, the superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. "But we're making parents aware that there might be an issue that they want to be aware of, that they need to be aware of, before they purchase a book."

Shibler said his goal is transparency in education. But he said he does not recall ever sending previous notices to parents informing them about other controversial book content in his 27 years as superintendent. 

Shibler said that a Scholastic representative brought the book's gay character to the attention of Rockford Public Schools. 

Rockford has about 3,600 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.