Two Sides to Every Coin

Posted on 19 April 2010

Maple Shade, New Jersey, is a quiet town of working class people known as the Gateway to Burlington County.  A few weeks ago, however, it achieved notoriety when a local resident and parent of a student at Maude Wilkins Elementary School (Grades 3 and 4), Janine Patterson Giandomenico, became the source of a conservative cause célèbre when she complained on the social networking website, Facebook, that boys had to dress as girls in a fashion show on the evolution of women’s clothing at the school.  In part, Ms. Giandomenico stated:

“How is dressing like a woman from any era going to teach him about history?  Why not let him do a report, poster, or other project on this subject?  If he was attending a vocational school in the field of textiles, women’s fashion, etc, then it would make sense.  My son is adamantly opposed, and I don’t see how forcing my 9-year-old to cross-dress in front of the entire school body is going to teach him anything about Women’s History.”

Her rant was picked up by Warren Todd Huston, editor and opinion writer of the Publius Forum ( website.   He wrote:

“The cross-dressing day is to take place April 16 to coincide with the gay activist’s school event called “Day of Silence,” a nation-wide effort ostensibly meant as an anti-bullying program. However, the real purpose of the event is an effort to spread the homosexual agenda in our schools… This is a pretty outrageous school event. Forcing grade school boys to dress up as women makes no sense whatever. Pushing the gay agenda while feminizing our young boys through a cross-dressing day? This isn’t your parent’s grade school celebration, for sure.”

As the story made its way across the Web, it was picked up by the national news media and aired, creating a firestorm that descended on Maude Wilkins School principal Beth Norcia who canceled the show and sent out a letter to the parents informing them of the cancellation of the show and its replacement by an assignment in which students would draw how women’s fashioned have evolved.

Superintendent Michael Levengood investigated the allegations and indicated that the original letter that said, in part, “if your child is a young man, he does not have to wear a dress or skirt, as there are many time periods when women wore jeans, pants and trousers.  However, each child must be able to express what time period their outfit is from.  Most of all, your child should have fun creating their outfit and learning about how women’s clothing has changed!” could have been misunderstood.  (See image of the letter in its entirety at conclusion of this article).

Also, he stated flatly “the school wasn’t trying to make anyone uncomfortable and was not aware of the gay rights protest on the same day, it’s unbelievable to me that the wording of a letter to a group of third-graders could have caused this, do you really think that our group of third grade teachers conspired to get boys to cross-dress?” Mr. Levengood added “I’ve learned a lesson to make sure communications between teachers and parents are reviewed before they go out.”

As we all go through life, we are faced with discerning truth from fiction in a variety of scenarios.  Among the most difficult of these is the case where information based upon an assumption is passed on as fact.  During my childhood, I can remember my father saying frequently, “there are two sides to every coin, and you must see both sides before making an educated decision.”

Following my father’s advice, I paid a visit to Principal Norcia of Maude Wilkins School.  Introducing myself, I asked about the situation that put her school in the national limelight.

Her response was that the entire circumstance was born of a misunderstanding.  In an attempt to create a school project for Women’s History Month about the evolution of women’s clothing, the parent in question misinterpreted the letter she received from her son’s teacher as a request for her son and the other boys to cross-dress.  The parent’s complaint on Facebook was exaggerated by a conservative blogger unfamiliar with the situation and later reported by other mainstream media as fact.  The resultant protests, many of which were received from people external to the school district, led to the cancellation of the project.

I asked the principal if the parent who publicly complained had contacted her regarding her concerns.  She responded, “No” and that no other complaints had been received.  Regarding the nature of the project, she indicated that it concerned how women dressed in the early part of the 20th century and that the children were asked to dress in clothing like their grandparents wore.

Concerning the public outcry, Principal Norcia indicated that the factors that led to the decision to cancel the project were the enormous numbers of email messages received from people all around the country – a number of which were vile in nature and the threat of possible demonstrations outside the school.

And so, the question remains:  was this a simple case of miscommunication or some type of plot by educators to promote homosexuality among young children?  My bet is on the former, as the latter is just too farfetched.  Let me further add that it saddens me that we live in a society so polarized that a communication from a teacher to parents, no matter how inarticulately written, could create the type of response we have witnessed in this situation.

It seems to me that a lot of grief could have been spared in this instance had the parent in question spoken directly with the teacher and principal to see the other side of the coin.

This post was written by:

- who has written 267 posts on Write On New Jersey.

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19 Responses to “Two Sides to Every Coin”

  1. Connie C. says:

    The letter from the school seems clear. However, and this is a big however, was it truly coincidence that riled up the mother in question? Schools have been shoveling Diversity and Tolerance down our children’s throats for as long as I have been a resident of New Jersey (more than 20 years). Tolerance is a very broad spectrum under which homosexuality falls. And some of us do not want our children to get the message that we tolerate homosexuality. Right or wrong, we do not tolerate homosexuality, gender bending, cross dressing, et al.

    Maybe the mother of this student had had it up to here with what was all over the media the same week: allegations that the Pope buried reports of pedophilia, via homosexual priests. Maybe she did not trust the Powers that Be. I can easily see where this mistake could have happened and applaud her for trying to protect her child from something she felt may have harmed him.

  2. Winfred Cooke says:

    As Connie C. above intimated, we are all so bombarded by the trash we hear and see in the media, maybe the mother’s wires got crossed by the time she received this letter from the school.

    Or maybe she just tuned in to a recent episode of American Idol and saw that disgusting runner up of last year, Adam Lambert, who is prooud to have splashed his photos all over the Internet, showing him cross dressing and doing most unnatural things that I myself would not like my children to see. When shows like American Idol, that promote themselves as family entertainment, push contestants like Adam Lambert, who, BTW, showed up for his performance wearing make up that would have made Cher in her heydey blush, then the lines between good taste, morality, and entertainment have seriously blurred and are, in my opinion, just plain wrong.

    If American Idol wants to turn itself into the annual Village Halloween Day parade, or a gay revue, then let it. But they should stop lying to the public and saying they are “family entertainment.”

    No wonder this mother of the boy was confused!

  3. Sammy K. says:

    It’s like a game of telephone. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but last Chanukah, I played this game with my own family. We are about 15 around the table, all ages. I started one round with Shakespeare’s quote from Romeo & Juliet, “She hangs like a jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” and passed it on to the next person, who then passed it on, and so on. We were not allowed to repeat the phrase at any time. My Philistine of a son-of-law was the last to hear the saying and he spewed it out as, “She hangs like a Jew.” Goyim! 😉

  4. William Wallace says:

    Cross dressing seems like s stupid idea in the first place, no matter what. Drawing on the other hand seems more normal.

  5. Author says:

    Hi Sammy I missed your visits and input, I hope you are well. Thanks for your analogy on this subject. The world would be a lot nicer if before you blow the whistle you take the time to look at the other side of the coin

  6. Hansaford says:

    Found your site on these daysand really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to catchit out some more later ..

  7. Elly says:

    Stumbled this blog post, many thanks.

  8. BRM says:

    The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!

  9. Gio says:

    This is just an indication of how our society is going to hell in a hand basket. Nobody trusts anybody else and we sure can’t trust Those in Power: slugs in Goldman Sachs, et al, school administrators, and even The Pope.

  10. Cat says:

    I found this post while surfing the net. Thanks for sharing will come back regularly and will email this post to my facebook buddies.

  11. Fasick says:

    Good luck getting people behind this one. Though you make some VERY fascinating points, youre going to have to do more than bring up a few things that may be different than what weve already heard. What are trying to say here? What do you want us to think? It seems like you cant really get behind a unique thought. Anyway, thats just my opinion.

  12. Sammy K. says:

    Greetings and salutations to The Esteemed Author. I’m fine; have been a bit tied with family matters. But I alwyays love your articles. You alwways make me think, reminisce, and laugh — not necessarily all at once. 🙂

  13. Landin Rasmussen says:

    It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful details on topics that many are interested in. Keep doing what you do as we love reading your work.

  14. Style Master says:

    Thank you for sharing this thought, bookmarked and included to my RSS.

  15. Kobs says:

    i have enjoyed reading thank for sharing your story Greeting.

  16. Anna Fermanova says:

    I feel a lot more people need to read this, very good info! . . . . . .

  17. Kfz says:

    Great post!!! 🙂

  18. vino says:

    Thanks for showing up such fabulous information. I have bookmarked you and will remain in line with your new posts. I like this post, keep writing and providing informative information!

  19. ShadyMaple says:

    I know this mother, she will cause a scene over nothing. Blames everyone for everything. Sits on her fat lazy ass in her filthy home pointing fingers at what is wrong in the world. She is always mad at the school for something, every teacher cringes if they get one of her kids.

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