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paineinthearse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-04-05 07:14 AM
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Saugus flap over aids book /

Books brought home stir parents' protests
Controversial topics in schools
By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff | May 4, 2005

A Saugus man livid about an AIDS booklet his daughter brought home from school wants the state to establish one standard textbook for health education. A Lexington father, upset about a different book that exposed his kindergartner to gay parents, believes that schools should notify parents before discussing same-sex marriage and other adult themes in class. Boston-area school officials and others say that the fathers' demands highlight the need for parental input on controversial subjects and show the fine line teachers walk as they try to educate children and avoid stepping too far into parents' domain.

Paul Stamatopoulos, a 39-year-old professional driver from Saugus, and his wife will meet with Superintendent Keith Manville today to discuss the AIDS booklet and ask him to remove it from the school. His 7-year-old daughter had received the booklet three months ago, but the father, dissatisfied by the school district's response, took his complaints to a television station last weekend. Manville said he will bring the issue up at the School Committee's next meeting, May 12. He said some of the booklet's language was ''kind of strong" for second-graders, but the father's arguments underscore the sensitive nature of teaching young students facts about life.

''We feel and obviously the School Committee feels there is a responsibility to educate kids about this," Manville said. ''The problem is that you have people on one end of the spectrum who say, 'Oh, thank God, you're doing this' . . . then you have people on the other end of the spectrum who say, 'You can't do this.' " Stamatopoulos was disturbed by the content in ''AIDS EducaTion Series," a student booklet about a boy who contracts HIV from a blood transfusion. A fact sheet about AIDS in the back says HIV is spread by the exchange of infected body fluids like semen and vaginal secretions. His daughter was upset because the book said the boy was going to die and was saddened by an illustration of a crying baby receiving a transfusion.

''I think at this age, the only thing should be saying is: 'Don't touch blood. You see a needle, don't touch it. Call for help,' " he said. Parents should handle discussions about the sexual transmission of AIDS, he said. ''If my daughter had come to me with that question, I would have talked to her," said Stamatopoulos. ''She never did. She plays with dolls. Do they have any innocence anymore? Is it all gone?"


Maria Cramer can be reached at .
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