- Photo by Alex Boerner
- Efland-Cheeks Elementary third-grade teacher Omar Currie has resigned.
A teacher and an assistant principal at Orange County’s Efland-Cheeks Elementary have stepped down following the backlash over the teacher’s reading of a gay children’s book in the classroom.
Third-grade teacher Omar Currie and Assistant Principal Meg Goodhand confirmed their resignation to the Indy Monday. Currie sparked an uproar this spring when he read the book, “King & King,” to his class following a bullying incident. The book, which was given to Currie by Goodhand, tells the story of a fictional prince who defies the pressure to marry a princess and weds a man.
Currie wanted to teach a lesson after one student was repeatedly bullied and called “gay” in a derogatory manner.
“My reading of ‘King & King’ was the 100 percent right thing to do,” he said on Monday. “It’s obvious Orange County Schools is lacking leadership right now.”
A handful of parents expressed anger, arguing Currie was forcing his opinion on the children, although many LGBTQ advocates, as well as Goodhand, came to Currie’s defense in a heated public meeting last month.
Currie said Monday that school system administrators were “hostile” to him in a recent meeting, after he publicly criticized the system in last month’s Indy report. “There was no way I was going to have the support I needed to continue teaching in Orange County,” he said.
Currie was angered when the controversy prompted the school’s principal, Kiley Brown, to order a new policy in which teachers would be forced to notify parents of every book read in the classroom. Brown, who did not respond to Indy interview requests, also ordered that parents be given the choice to opt out of the lesson.
A school committee has chosen multiple times to support keeping the book at Efland-Cheeks, although Interim Superintendent Pam Jones has appointed a system committee to review the book after parents appealed their case to the district.
That committee’s first meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Gravelly Hill Middle School in Efland. It is a public meeting.
Orange County Schools spokesman Seth Stephens confirmed the system had received Currie’s resignation. “We wish him well,” Stephens said.
Goodhand declined to talk about her resignation Monday.