Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityAfter outcry, Hamilton County school district cancels librarian's Mother's Day lesson | WTVC
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After concerns, Hamilton County school district cancels librarian's Mother's Day lesson

Caroline Mickey of Alpine Crest Elementary. Image: WTVC/Getty Images.
Caroline Mickey of Alpine Crest Elementary. Image: WTVC/Getty Images.
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The decision to cancel a librarian's Mother's Day lesson at a school in Hamilton County is getting national attention after local members of a national group brought concerns to school officials.

The lesson was designed to include students who didn't have what is considered a 'traditional' mother.

But the group Hamilton County Moms for Liberty said the books promoted what they call the 'homosexual agenda.'

According to a Washington Post editorial, Caroline Mickey of Alpine Crest Elementary sent a notice out to parents in advance of the Mother's Day lesson, which she said would be "sensitive to the fact that not all students live with a mother" by celebrating those who aren't mothers but "fill the motherly roles in our lives."

Mickey mentioned 2 books that would be read aloud to kids between kindergarten and second grade.

One was a book called 'Stella Brings the Family,' about a girl's awkward feelings about a Mother's Day celebration because she doesn't have a mother. In the book she has 2 fathers.

The other was called 'Mother Bruce,' about a male bear who adopts a gaggle of goslings who think he's their mom.

"A lot of classrooms, pretty much everywhere will be doing some sort of Mother's Day project," Mickey told us. "And when it came to doing something like that, I really wanted to highlight the role that mothers play and all of the jobs that mothers do that people might not normally think of."

Mickey says that when she was growing up, her stepdad made her lunches, her mom tucked them in at night, and her older sister would make sure that their backpacks were packed for the next day.

She wanted to use her lesson plan to highlight that every family has different roles.

"While not everyone has a mother, everyone has someone who loves them in a motherly way. And that was what the intention was with that," says Mickey.

But the lesson plan did not sit well with local members of a group called Moms for Liberty, who voiced concerns about the lesson on social media. Hamilton County schools later pulled the lesson.

The chair of the Hamilton County Moms for Liberty, Tonya Dodd, reached out to Hamilton County Schools superintendent Dr. Justin Robertson and District 26 State Representative Greg Martin.

Rep. Martin told Dodd that he thought the books were 'unacceptable in my opinion.'

In a copy of an email Dodd posted to social media, Dr. Robertson replied, "I agree that there are better book choices that could be used.'

She later posted an image of those replies with the caption 'Success.'

We reached out to Dodd for comment on this story on Wednesday. She told us...

This is an issue of local control, plain and simple. Moms for Liberty encourages parents to speak up and ask questions about what their children are being taught. In this case, parents were concerned with curriculum being taught to young children about homosexual families and they brought it up to the principal and Superintendent of a school. The principal and Superintendent agreed to remove the lesson - and that was their choice. It is interesting that there is so much anger over the debate on this lesson, which has nothing to do with reading, writing and arithmetic - even while our literacy rates fall to some of their lowest rates ever. Where is the outrage over failing schools? Concerned parents demand to know that as well.

We also talked to Taylor Lyons of the group Moms for Social Justice, who told us in reaction to this story,

From what we were hearing, the parents were thankful that that the librarian had thought to include a lesson for kids who might have non traditional family structures for for which, you know, Mother's Day might be a little difficult for them a lot of times. So they were thankful for that lesson. And they were just quite frankly baffled and very upset to hear that it had been canceled for no reason.

Moms for Social Justice has started a petition to bring back the Mother's Day course.

We reached out to Hamilton County Schools about this story. Spokesman Steve Doremus replied in an email:

As a school district we are committed to ensuring every student belongs and every community is served. Aligned to those commitments, we have a responsibility to ensure positive, inclusive, caring environments for every child. In this instance, as an administration, we chose to put a hold on the planned lesson at Alpine Crest Elementary School as we continue to consider the best ways to serve our students and families. We will continue to review district policy and adjust district procedures. The issue in question here is not the content selected, but the range of content available in the lesson that would have been inclusive to all family models.

Mickey tells us that once she planned the lesson she sent a notice to parents to let them know what it would be about and also give them the option to opt their student(s) out.

"A parent or a caregiver, they have the right to opt out and to know what's going on with their student's learning. And I think if they're not for whatever reason, to have that conversation [that is talked about in the lesson] yet, I respect that," says Mickey.

We asked her how she feels about the district's decision.

"I just feel the district did what they felt was best in the moment, it happened very quickly," says Mickey. "I have another lesson planned and that's what I've been doing all this week."

We also asked Mickey how she felt about the statements made by Moms for Liberty.

"I just find it unfortunate that I am having these conversations," says Mickey. "I had higher expectations for my city."

When we asked about that group claiming she was pushing a 'homosexual agenda,' Mickey says...

“In my mind, there was a different theme? Yes. Stella has two dads, but that's not relevant part of the story."

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There will be discussion about the Mother's Day course in this weeks Hamilton County School Board Meeting.

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