Many of you saw it, the CNN news cast about Nicholas’ School Project where he shared his family, all of the members of his family, which included his brother Noah who was born still. A teacher at the school, Old Brooklyn Elementary and Middle School, refused to accept Nicholas’ project, stating it contained inappropriate content and that he needed to resubmit his family pictures. Many of us are appalled and outraged. And we have a right to be. The teacher is basically saying that Noah, is inappropriate, that a picture of him is appalling and that the other kids being exposed to his picture, will see that death exists.
Apparently, the school wants to hide the fact that death exists.
In a world full of violence, murder, and school shootings, what is this school teaching their children? In my son’s elementary school, they learned about lock down. They learned how to hide during an active shooter. Is this school teaching their kids what to do in the event they experience this type of violence? If so, what are they telling the kids the reason for the drill is? I remember having bomb drills in elementary school, hiding under desks and sheltering in the classroom. Tornado and fire drills are a part of every school protocol, but what does this mean? Are we discounting death?
I am not off topic here, I am making a point. Death exists. Evil exists. To shelter children from it, only makes it more scary. To shelter children, makes them unaware. To shelter children, hurts the children who are the unfortunate ones who have had to experience it.
Nicholas is carrying grief. He loves his brother and sharing him helps him. It helps him to cope and process his loss. It helps him feel good when his parents are crying and grieving. Sharing a picture of his stillborn brother, HELPS HIM.
Noah is not something to be disgusted by. He is not something to be afraid of. Noah is reality. The reality that 1 in 160 babies are born still every year in the US. The children who would see Noah’s picture, will most likely see him for who he is. A baby. Only the teacher brought in the death. Only the teacher and the principal brought the fear of death into the situation.
This was an opportunity for questions, for awareness, for supporting a hurting student. As a parent, I would not be offended at all by this but the sad reality is, we know that parents are offended and they may be upset. But Nicholas was never given a chance. Instead, his voice was silenced. Instead, he was told to “hide” his brother. To “change the picture.” That is family didn’t fit societal norm. He was asked to show people a “fake family.” If both of his parents were women or men, would he have been asked to change the picture?
This silencing has got to stop. Joey was silenced. Many of you have heard him share about his loss of Ruby. Many of you saw him cry over his sister who was born not alive in the first trimester. Miscarriage and stillbirth is real and it is frequent. I can’t be silent over this. I won’t be silent.
Below is a letter I wrote to the principal. The one who “supported her teachers decision.” I urge you to write to her as well. Please try to be civil. It’s okay to be angry. I know I am. I hope we can help her see the error in what was done and help validate Nicholas’ feelings.
Good Morning Ms. Kaiser,