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Saturday, February 13, 2010

City school officials deny sex claims

A Merrimack legislator opposed to same-sex marriage claimed this week that fifth-grade students in Nashua are being shown pictures of naked men and taught how to engage in anal sex.

“I heard yesterday from a mother that in fifth grade in Nashua, they were given as part of their classroom instruction naked pictures of two men showing a presentation of anal sex,” Rep. Nancy Elliott, R-Merrimack, said during a hearing in Concord on HB1590, which would repeal the law legalizing same-sex marriage.

Before she made the comment, Elliott graphically described how she envisioned sex between two men.

After being interrupted and urged to stay on topic by Chairman David Cote, D-Nashua, Elliott continued.

“This is directly to the bill,” she said. “Because we have made a marriage of same sex, they are now teaching it in public school. They are showing our fifth-graders how they can actually perform this kind of sex.

“And they are condoning, they are saying this is normal and this is something that you may want to try.”

The comments have Nashua school officials at a loss. Nothing resembling what Elliott said is being taught in any of Nashua’s schools, officials say.

Superintendent Mark Conrad said school officials have asked all elementary school principals about the claim. Conrad said there is no evidence to substantiate Elliott’s comment and no parents have called to complain.

“We don’t have any information that this has occurred,” Conrad said Friday.

Elliott, a supporter of the bill to repeal same-sex marriage, relayed to the committee a phone call she claimed to have received from a Nashua parent the day before. Her committee ended up voting 12-8 to recommend killing the bill.

N.H. Democratic Party Executive Director Michael Brunelle said Friday that Elliott’s comments went beyond a lawmaker’s free speech rights and should be publicly condemned.

“Every legislator has a responsibility to speak the truth,’’ said Brunelle, who previously represented Manchester in the House of Representatives. “It is totally inappropriate to make these statements that are inflammatory and clearly hurtful.”

A phone call and e-mail to Elliott by The Telegraph were not returned Friday.

House Chief of Staff Donald Manning confirmed parents contacted the office of Speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, on Friday afternoon to find out how they could contact Elliott.

“We got numerous calls once the newspaper story about her remarks went up on the Web site,” Manning said.

Conrad also left a message for Elliott on Friday morning. He said he never heard back from her.

“We’re not sure how this has come to Representative Elliott’s attention,” Conrad said. “As a state representative, if she became aware of a concern from a parent about inappropriate subject matter, I would think she would have a responsibility to call us. To my knowledge, she hasn’t done that.”

Conrad said health instruction in the elementary schools focuses on health and nutrition.

“Sexual preference and relationships are not part of the elementary school health curriculum,” Conrad said.

Cote declined to comment on what Elliott said during the hearing.

“I think it speaks for itself,” he said.

A video of the hearing was put on YouTube earlier in the week, but was picked up by several national blogs on Friday.

Prior to her comments about the Nashua school curriculum, Elliott gave a graphic description of anal sex to her colleagues on the committee, saying, “We’re talking about taking a penis of one man and putting it in the rectum of another man and wiggling it around in excrement and I have to think, ‘Would I allow this to be done to me?’ ”

Rep. Paul Hackel, D-Nashua, called Elliott’s comments “totally inappropriate.”

“It was out of context in what was a reasonable discussion of the issue,” Hackel said.

Elliott has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage.

When the House voted to legalize same-sex marriage in March of last year, Elliott said, “Male and female join perfectly together sexually. Marriage between a man and a woman is perfect and holy. Marriage will not make the same-sex people any happier than civil unions did. I know that, and all of you know that.’’

Staff writer Kevin Landrigan contributed to this report. Michael Brindley can be reached at 594-6426 or mbrindley@nashuatelegraph.com.