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While debating whether Kameron's speech was appropriate, the students at P.S. 195 probably learned several valuable lessons. In the end, the discussion on same-sex marriage probably included lessons learned on free speech and censorship. Let's hope everyone is better off after the events of the past few days.
A fifth grader at P.S. 195 in Rosedale, Queens finally got the opportunity to deliver his speech on same-sex marriage today. Kameron Slade was supposed to make his presentation during a contest last week, but the principal banned the boy from delivering it because of the sensitive nature of the topic.
School Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the principal expressed concerns over whether the issue was appropriate for elementary school kids. But after a NY1 News report aired, the Department of Education allowed the speech to be heard. Kameron said his message was simple: "No matter what orientation you are, you should always respect people." What do you say?
Should the school's principal have allowed students to hear a speech on same-sex marriage? Is it a topic that should be discussed in the classroom or at home? What lesson did this controversy teach students at P.S. 195?
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Topics like this are better left discussed at home. In school, especially an elementary school, children's beliefs are still learned at home. Families come from all cultures and have different ideas on what is and isn't appropriate for their 10 or 11 yr old. Therefore, if it is discussed in the home, each family shares their own thoughts on a topic and those are the thoughts each student will believe in. There is no reason why a 5th grader's speech has to deal with same sex marriage as opposed to his/her thoughts and memories of the years spent in elementary school.
Arden Heights, Staten Island
A touchy subject to say the least, but at this point it is just nice to see that a child has the ability to write a speech about anything given the current educational system. As for the subject matter, I will take it on it's face that the student is just advanced for his age and decided on the subject matter on his own. That said I don't know how many of his peers will grasp the whole concept, since that depends on how much they have been exposed to any talk at home about adult relationships period. I know when I was in fifth grade my main concern was comic books and playing tag, I really didn't know or care about marriage one way or another.
If the main point of his speech is treating people with respect even though you may have differences then the principle should have just let him make the speech at the contest like he was originally supposed to. In reality all the school and Chancellor did was blow this thing farther out of proportion then it probably needed to be and draw attention to the situation. Since I am assuming the speech was read by the principle maybe he/she should have just informed the parents of the students that would have heard the speech of the subject matter and offered the choice for parents to opt their kids out of being present. As for parents they should be discussing this and a host of other matters at home with their children, as well as being involved with teaching them things that may not be presented in the classroom. The school system is not there to raise people's kids and would do a terrible job of it if left alone to do so.
NO, NO AND NO. THIS SHOULD BE DISCUSSED AT HOME WITH THEIR PARENTS. EVERYONE IS IN EVERYONE'S ELSE'S BUSINESS. WHAT KIND OF GRADES DO THESE CHILDREN HAVE? THESE SO CALLED EDUCATORS' SHOULD BE CONCENTRATING ON EDUCATION NOT OTHER THINGS. THERE ARE SO MANY TOPICS TO DISCUSS AND WRITE ABOUT AND THEY COME UP WITH THIS. THIS CHANCELLOR IS JUST A PUPPET JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN BLOOMBERG'S CIRCLE. THEY ARE ALL DOING THE SAME THING AND THAT IS JUST COLLECT THEIR PAYCHECKS AND DO THEIR TIME. AN UTTER DISGRACE.
I don’t care one way or the other. But I’d like to know how this kid found out enough information to write the speech. Where did he get the info? Parents? Teacher? Reading? TV?
The speech was about same sex marriage as a social and political issue. Unfortunately, many people start to think about what would be happening in the bedroom with same sex couples, and not of their loving commitment to one another. What's sad is that the Principal felt the need to make that decision out of a fear of the Parents response. I don't fault the principal, I fault our societies conservative social mores.
What a smart young man
No one has a right to discuss same sex anything with my children but me ..you have to draw a line somewhere.
Marriage equality is a civil rights issue and should be discussed just as other civil rights issues regarding race and gender are taught.
Good Evening John,
I first want to praise the young man for writing a heartfelt speech and having the courage to deliver it publicly. However, I don't think the entire subject matter is appropriate for the school setting. I am a fifth grade teacher in the city schools and I can tell you that the lines between parents' responsibilities and the school's/teachers' responsibilities blur more with each school year. Yes, there is a place for lessons about respecting each other's differences. No, schools should not be teaching about same sex marriage, or any marriage for that matter. There are some topics (like marriage, sex, STDs, menstruation, hygeine, etc.) that should be taught in the home and not in public schools. There are so many wonderful parents out there, but when the schools take on social lessons, it gives the not-so-wonderful parents more reason to slack off. Why shouldn't they? Just leave the public schools to parent your children.
I congratulate Cameron, his dad, and NY1 for trumping the principal and giving this brave and open-minded 5th grader the chance to model tolerance and acceptance of difference to his peers. There are many family structures in every classroom and all should be seen as acceptable! I am a gay parent who raised a son in a school district which also modeled tolerance and I also taught 5th grade for many years.Fifth-graders are keen on justice and fairness and a wonderful age to teach themes of diversity to. I'm delighted to see this great kid supported by his parents!
Where is there a better place to discuss Gay Topics but in School. Its a place for learning and asking questions to learn about a subject.
my 5th grader at ps234 in Tribeca just participated in a social action study. her group's social action topic was "same sex marriage." other student groups covered topics such as stopping bullying, stopping ocean pollution, saving the rain forrest, recycling, and more. it was great!
Kameran should be put up for a NYC Profile in Courage award. Not necessarily because he chose a topic to speak out on but because he chose one with intentions of bringing people together, to educate his classmates on understanding of differences in other people and how they live. Imagine what a topic like inter racial marriage was thought of in the 1950's... taboo? Think how silly it is today...
I only wish he had thought about what he learned regarding censorship and entered the contest with that topic. He probably would have played to a standing ovation, at least I would be up there standing and cheering.
New York, NY 10012
Same sex marriage should be discussed at home. This might confuse a childs perspective on how they or thier family have lived by far. this might contradict their relgious beliefs or just basically how they were brought up in general.
a child in 5th grade is about 12 yrs old here in the u.s. they are going through their body changes and hormonal feelings. trying to figure out what it is in fact they are feeling. Perhaps around this time they might be realizing what sexual orientation might be/means... Which is why thier parent/guardian should and must have these conversations with thier children. A fifth grader shouldnt. If this child was so understanding on how same sex marriage should be allowed then he should have been understanding why this wouldnt be approriate. Fifth graders, children are immature and shou;ldnt be even thinking about these events as much. why not a topic about going green ?! Just a thought
I understand that this change has been great for same sex partners, But what about those who oppose to this way life? How comfiortable do the opposers feel on raising thier children in america now? television shows--canceling cable---will some people act as mormons now...these are questions people are asking each other... the opposers already have trouble explaining to their children what a "boygirl" is(a female who dresses like a boy )...even when a girl has a boy name...i honestly dont know if this was the best thing....a female who dresses like a boy
The Principle should not have allowed the fifth grader to give the speech on same sex marriages, why? Because, some fifth graders are more mature than others. It is up tot he parents to speak with their children on this topic. The Principle should have held a meeting with all the fifth grade parents to see their views on this subject. If they all agreed, he could have then allowed the child to give the speech.
For everyone who says this discussion is not for school, let's take a look at our not too distant history when any talk about civil rights was frowned upon. This generation looks back in utter disbelief at the hatred of the time. Future generations are going to look back at us the same way. Its sad when talking about equality is considered wrong.
I wish with all my heart that little Nixmarie Brown, Marchella Brett Pierce, Lisa Steinberg and all the other poor little souls that were beaten, starved and tortured to death by "normal couples" could have been adopted by same-sex parents. Our children are our future. God bless the kids who have open and compassionate minds!
I don't understand the controversy. Aren't these speeches supposed to be about self-expression? If not, why didn't the teachers simply assign pre-written speeches, i.e. The Gettysburg Address, to each student? There is NOTHING controversial or provocative, or remotely sexual in the speech. Indeed, same-sex marriage is legal in NY State.
Kameron's speech is about his experience with a friend's family, love and tolerance. It's not about forcing his experiences or his views on anyone. No more than a speech about basketball is forcing anyone else to love basketball.
Rather than being neutral, by suppressing the speech, the principal is implying that same-sex marriage is wrong or otherwise, "unspeakable." Not only is that insensitive, but it contradicts NY State law. Furthermore, it inhibits childhood development. How is a child supposed to react when s/he sees a gay couple or gay parents, which is inevitable in New York given the law? The speech merely talks about something that exists openly. Would you detractors also want a speech about interracial marriage suppressed? Keep in mind that a speech about marriage is just that -- about marriage. It is not about what happens in bed. Since heterosexual marriage is not "a topic best left to the parents," why is same-sex marriage such an adult topic when neither is about sex? Indeed, marriage is portrayed in many children's fairy tales (no pun intended!). Why are people so threatened?
I don't understand why this topic is such a huge deal to be fussing over. I mean come on now, people make speeches about war, the drug trade, the sex trade, the corrupt government but they never are publicided like this gay topic. So how come gay marriage is a bigger deal than all these other problems going on in this world. I don't get it, like seriously why worry about little things like this, when there are bigger problems out there. There are many important speeches that students make everyday but I don't see that on the news. Atleast the student is not being ignorant and talking about having something about gay people.
I think if anything what the history of intolerance has taught any of us is that It's taught at home. So to say that it's not a topic that should be covered in school is disingenuous to the process of education and having an open mind. Most parents don't discuss issues and ideas with their kids so much as they tend to dictate their own ideas and prejudices to their kids.
-Francisco (upper west side)
LIKE CAMERON SAID, IT IS WHAT IT IS. HE SAID KIDS KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON REGARDLESS, THEY SEE, THEY TALK. LIKE IT OR NOT- FOLKS PLEASE LIVE IN REALITY!
Ah come on, I was in 7th grade in the late 60,s and there was several pregnant girls there then in the 7th grade. Yet girls were not allowed to wear pants, that's a joke as this is.
A chair is still a chair even though no one is sitting there, it just won't change.
Personally I am not for or against same sex marriage, to each his own but I am against CENSORSHIP. If the Principal wanted to get the opinions of the Parents before he allowed the speech to be read he should have done so. Postpone the contest until he took the proper measures, whatever they were, allow parents to have their kids opt out. Also keep in mind these kids know more than we think they do. Obviously from his speech, they know about same sex marriage and are discussing it in the lunchroom and playground, so why not discuss it in the classroom so they get the proper guidance on the issue. We should not promote censorship at all. Cameron continue to write from your heart and soul. Good Luck in your future endeavors.
Kenny from Parkslope
Absolutely not!!!!! I do not think same sex marriage should not be discussed in the classroom. It is the parent's responsibility to talk to their children about such a sensitive subject.
Is same sex marriage so risqué that a child must be withheld from speaking about the simplicity of someone being in love with someone from the same sex?
Whether or not same-sex marriage is a good idea, in New York State it's the law, and you don't have to be smarter than a fifth grader to see that, despite the continuing opposition, same-sex marriage is an idea whose time has come.
Yes, there are many complex aspects to this controversial subject that are beyond the grasp of a fifth grader, but, when you strip away all the jurisprudential mumbo jumbo, ecclesiastical hocus pocus, and homophobic faux morality, what it comes down to is that we should respect our fellow human beings in their desire to form families like the rest of us and to participate fully in our free society, a message of acceptance that even fifth graders can understand.
A couple of generations ago, this boy might have made a speech defending interracial marriage. I wonder if his principal would have tried to silence him then as well.
Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn
Sick, sick, sick. The fact that the gays are pushing this in public school and calling it similar to the civil rights movement is disgusting and is a slap in the face to every black person in America. Being black and choosing a homosexual lifestyle have nothing to do with each other and are in no way common causes. African Americans were treated like trash because of the color of their skin and suffered much more than any homosexual. Gays are not accepted by society because of their perverted lifestyle. Of course the gays want to indoctrinate children as young as possible to further their sick agenda of turning men into women and women into men. The public school system is corrupted. If you don't know that by now you haven't been watching the news for the past 20 years.
If there are topics that are too "adult" for a particular age group, there should be a list of approved topics the child can choose from provided by the teacher. Personally I think his speech is defiantly appropriate for 5th Graders. Kids that age I hear at the playground tossing around gay slurs at each other as a way of teasing one another. This is a fine age to learn some sensitivity & tolerance.
There is something that many people don't realize that is available in NYC schools....an opt out clause. If you don't want your child to hear or discuss certain topics, you have a write to have your child pulled out of the classroom. To say that other children in the classroom aren't allowed to hear diversed opinions just because another parent doesn't want their child to partake in discussion is unfair....opt your child out
From Wayne on Staten Island.
Current events has always been a part of “Social Studies class” for 5th graders and this subject should definitely be touched upon in the classroom. It’s a shame to not let our children have a pulse on the real world.
A child’s education is three prong. They learn from the dinner table, the streets and the classroom. Tolerance needs to be learned from all three.
Patrick from Astoria
Totally against it. How are we to teach reproduction in the schools and then turn around
teach children that same sex marriage is oK. Two people of the same sex cannot reproduce nor procreate. Stop the Madness
To those people who say that their kids should not be subjected to this discussion: This was not a discussion. It was not a debate. It was a speech contest, and Kameron chose to speak on a topic he felt strongly about based on his experience. Your kids can agree or disagree, or even tune out -- just as they can with ANY topic. And that's true whether a student is speaking on stage or on the playground. We don't suppress others right to speak just because we don't enjoy the topic. That's something kids should learn. And apparently, many adults as well based on the posts in this blog.
This subject was probably a bit too mature for this grade level because like many other mature subjects, some kids may understand it, while others may become confused or even intimidated by it. All public speaking today is geared towards same sex marriage, but I’ve never heard a word about what happens in a same sex divorce, for one example, 98% of the time the wife gets custody of any children (and the alimony and child support), but who’s the wife when two men marry? It’s such a shame that today’s kids are being robbed of their childhoods when they should be outside enjoying children’s games and not worrying about or being burdened with adult problems.
I wouldn't be so harsh the principal. We are moving forward, and that is the most important thing. History teaches us that racism in America was first battle in the military service by making it an integrated institution.
This would be moving too fast for many and too slow for others. It was about fifty years ago when MLK Jr. Delivered that speach, "I have a dream" and many still believe that they are still dreaming. Many people believe that because President Obama won the presidency, racism was over in America. Even the president is finding himself under discrimination. There were many military men who dare to say that they wouldn't keep serving under the president but the constitution. I could just start wondering how long this fight would be fought when racism is still a present and evident fight.
If one student knows about same sex relationships, all students know about it. It is better to let the young man give his speech and, if they have questions, let children ask their parents or other trusted adults about what they heard. Otherwise, they may get schoolyard misinformation. Also, students should be learning about their free speech rights under the Constitution.
My hope is Cameron has learned that sometimes not getting what you want can bring you a greater opportunity to make a greater impact.
If our kids don't learn in school about same sex marriage, they'll teach each other in the streets and that's a fact. You're much better off opening the topic for a structured discussion.
-Jake from Laurelton, Queens.
I'm just curious. Do heterosexuals still have any rights in this city?
Upper East side
I just don't understand how when it comes to anything same sex, the first thought that comes to mind is what they do behind close doors, as if we as people aren't human. Who are we from behind closed doors ???
For those of us who grew up with a gay parent it is very upsetting to hear the idea that the concept of gay marriage is somehow "inappropriate" for children. All of NY1's discussion has focused on whether straight parents think it's OK for their kids to be exposed to the concept of gay marriage. How about recognizing the fact that a fair number of children in the NYC school system have gay parents? I'm guessing it would affect their lives in a positive way to hear a schoolmate support their family structure.
WHY CONFUSE OUR KIDS EVEN MORE STICK TO MATH AND ENGLISH. THE MEDIA CONTROLS EVERYTHING. EVEN IF THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DON'T BELIEVE IN SAME SEX MARRIAGE.
Sex same marriage should be discussed at the high school level. I think sexuality is a very complex issue and at age 10, I don't think every child have a good understanding of heterosexuality much less homosexuality or bisexuality. And to me children need a good grasp of heterosexuality before we discuss other topics in sexuality. Even though I think the student was brave in making his speech, he could have chose another topic. So no offense, I understand why the principal had concerns.
And I am a little disturbed that people compare racial equality to sexual orientation! Racism is a civil rights issue, sexual orientation is a private issue. Sexual orientation became a public issue when it got in the way of getting a job or being allowed legal rights to marry.
-MJ, Park Slope
Christina wake up and smell the coffe. Children are smarter than your opinion. The school are the lessons of our lives.
Same sex marriage is a preference amongst adult individuals, why should a 10 year old child be in school to learn or hear about this issue. Learning about your society is one thing but this same sex issue is now being pressed into the community and our children, which I think is not right. What interest does a 10 year old have in marriage other then there own family ? Our school systems are supposed to be teaching our children math, english, social studies, arts n crafts, music, etc. This isn't a subject for our schools and it goes to show how far out of touch our school system is. As an example, just because one child may be a jehovah witness doesn't mean the entire class has to become or be converted to the belief, same idea,
Thanks for reading,
Staten Island, NY
Even though this is all about a speech, if the schools are going to try and teach regarding this things, they should take in account everything about it. They should state the fact that it hasn't always been the ordinary way of marriage and that it does not offer room for natural procreation. They should also explain that it does not support procreation and extension of ones DNA to other generations unless intricate measures out of the norm are taken are considered. This would serve as good education for Homosexuals and Heterosexuals.
It should be involved in the subject of science and fully explain all details regarding effects of Homosexuality and how Homosexuals are affected as Well as teach about Heterosexuals.
I'm gay without children. If I were a parent I would want to protect my child from whatever in life might cause him or her to be unhappy or confused. The circumstances that could cause that angst wouldn't be homosexuality or same gender marriage but people's reaction to those issues. Children are very aware. If adults treat a child as if the child is clueless, controversial issues become things that are talked about in low mummers, in shadows.
Some people missed the whole issue. The little boy was just talking about tolerance and treating people right. Kids were not being taught in the class room. The boy talked about an issue that he was concerned about.
If it was about tolerance, how cud it be 'inappropriate'! We're well into an age of kids w/ 2 moms/dads! Its on the #1 family sitcom! What remote, insulated town w/no tv does this principal think we live in?!
Homosexuals are a disgrace to the country, bringing judgment from God Who doesn't want them: "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (Ephesians 5: 11-12). Homosexuals are destroyed by God with fire and brimstone (Genesis 19: 24), they are called "uncleanness " or nasty people (Romans 1: 24), "condemned to death (Leviticus 20: 13), "the vengeance of eternal fire" Jude verse 7 "their sin is very grievous"(Genesis 18: 20). If you love them, tell them to Repent like the rest of humanity (Romans 3: 23).
John - Why is it that you balance out all the comments against the homosexual marriage speech a 10 year old made with a comment in favor of it but not the other way around . Also NY1 all the people interviewed were in favor of the Homosexual marriage speech and what it means. You really mean to tell me that nobody spoke against it. Hmmm Smells Fishy. Also there was a story of a song that contain God Bless America and that was banned but you did not focus a whole hour on this . Shame on you NY1 who's agenda are you backing? My Last point concerning this 10 Year Old Boy. Do you really truly believe that he came up with this concept on his own. Do you think 10 year old's are thinking about people's relationships . Come on now Get real !!! If anything he should feel the pain of racism that blatantly exists and is closer for him to be affected by at this age. These early years in school should be focused on READING, WRITING, ARTS &CRAFTS, MUSIC not who is married to who . and if you insist on discussing these things with children then you should address something that affects at least 80 percent of the children . The breakdown of Marriages & families in general Divorces Break down of Homes because of Drugs & Alcohol Single Family Homes Drug adiction Physical and Mental Abuse Promiscuity and the list goes on So Get Real... Let CHILDREN BE CHILDREN and Stop using them for your AGENDA's
All the kids are going to and mostlikley heard of same sex marriage and I blame the school for not setting limitations to begin with. our kids are our future they must know bout this topic or other topics. So let it be.
Corey, jamaica ny
OUR NEED TO SHIELD THE CHILDREN FROM LIFE AND ALL THAT IS INCLUDED IS JUST PLAIN STUPID. THE CHILDREN ARE AND WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE SURE THAT SEX EDUCATION IS A SUBJECT OF LIFESTYLES, ON A NEED TO KNOW BASIS. PEOPLE THESE CHILDREN CANNOT START FAST ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH THE REALITIES OF LIFE, AS WE KNOW IT. FROM A PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW, I COULD NOT START FAST ENOUGH TO BRING THE LIFESTYLES OF THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW TO THE ATTENTION OF MY HUSBAND. SINCE WE BOTH HAD SEX EDUCATION IN New York City SCHOOLS, I HAD TO ADDRESS MY OWN THOUGHTS THAT BRINGS OUT THE FACT THAT LIFE IS GOOD. THE SEX EDUCATION SHOULD BE TAUGHT HOW TO SEE THE DIVERSE SIDE OF LIFE AND WE NEED TO GET OUR HEADS OUT OF OUR BUTTS AND MAKE SURE THAT OUR CHILDREN ARE GIVEN THE TOOLS TO CONTINUE ON THIS LIFESTYLE JOURNEY. THE FACT THAT OUR CHILDREN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES PF LIFE, WILL MAKE THEM MORE SECURE, TO THE FACT THAT ACCEPTANCE IS A FORM OF SELF RESPECT FOR OTHERS. NOW THE DILEMMA OF LIFE, AS SHOWN TO THE ADULTS, BOTH STRAIGHT AND NOT SO STRAIGHT WHO HAVE THE NERVE TO DISRESPECT THE LIFE THE LORD HAS GIVEN YOU, NOT TO BE INTOLERANT AND WISHY-WASHY ON HOW TO BE A GOOD CITIZEN OF THE USA. GIVEN THE CURRENT EVENTS, THAT HAS STRAIGHT PEOPLE, RAPING OUR CHILDREN. IT IS NOT THE EQUAL COUPLE THAT IS MOLESTING OUR CHILDREN, AND HAS PUBLICLY SHARED THEIR ANGST WITH THE PUBLIC FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO GET THEIR STUFF TOGETHER AND GIVE THEMSELVES ANOTHER CHANCE AT LIFE. THE CHILDREN CANNOT BE TOO YOUNG TO DEAL WITH LIFE, AS WE KNOW IT, MY DAUGHTER, WHO WAS A STUDENT AT ONE OF THE BEST COUNTRY SCHOOLS IN CONNECTICUT, AND THE COUNTRY, HAD SEX EDUCATION CLASSES WHEN SHE WAS IN THE SECOND GRADE. DID THIS BOTHER HER; NO, WHAT SHE DID NOT UNDERSTAND WHO WAS GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE WHATEVER WAS TROUBLING HER, RESOLVED BY THE STAFF OF THE COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL. I THANK THE LORD THAT SHE JUST ACCEPTED THE FACTS FOR WHAT IT WAS AT THAT TENDER AGE OF 8 AND 9 YEARS.
There are children in the schools with same sex parents. How do you think those children would feel if a speech can't be read about their parents and they can't talk about their parents?
That is why the speech has to be allowed.