Just a simple “misunderstanding?” That is what officials at Maude Wilkins Elementary School in Maple Shade, New Jersey are trying to say happened over a “cross-dressing” fashion show for third graders that was designed to celebrate Women’s History Month, and also coincided with the homosexualist “Day of Silence.”
The uproar began over the weekend, when school teacher Tonya Uibel sent home a 16-page packet with her third-grade students telling parents that their children were required to participate in an “end of the unit” assessment for Women’s History Month. That assessment, according to the packet, would include a fashion show designed to reflect how women’s roles and fashions have changed over the years.
“If your child is a young man, he does not have to wear a dress or skirt, as there are many time periods where women wore jeans, pants and trousers,” Uibel wrote. “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!”
Parent Janine Giandomenico vented her frustrations with the school on the social networking site Facebook, which was then picked up by conservative blogger Warren Todd Huston.
“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?” wrote Giandomenico.
“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.”
The story soon went national after Huston commented on the story through his blog Publius Forum, noting that it was a suspicious coincidence that boys should be conscripted to dress like women on the same day, April 16, that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network encourages students to participate in the “Day of Silence” and protest the bullying of homosexuals.
The show has now been cancelled, and school officials are insisting that they did not intend to make boys cross-dress at all.
“It was never our intention to have boys dress up as women,” said Principal Beth F. Norcia in a letter to Maude Wilkins Elementary School families. “There are many different time periods that had women and men dressing in pants, suits, and even sweat suits. Students were just asked to dress as a time period, not as a woman. The children were then being asked to identify their time period of dress.”
Instead, students will now be asked to simply draw a picture of a woman and identify the fashion period.
Superintendent Michael Livengood told FoxNews.com that he wished that ” the letter had been clearer and had been worded differently.”
“But it was a misunderstanding. It was meant to demonstrate students’ awareness in women’s roles, and along with that, their changes in fashion over time,” he said.
However, Huston, writing on Publius Forum, did not buy the excuse from school officials, saying it was “hard to reconcile” the letter from teacher Uibel with the letter from Principal Norcia.
“In the initial letter home to parents, it was pretty clear that the school intended for the boys to dress as famous women, or in representative fashion of women of American history,” wrote Huston. “Yet in the letter that announced the cancelation of the cross-dressing day, principal Norcia claims that they never intended ‘to have boys dress up as women.’
“And people wonder why homeschooling is growing so fast?”