FORMER SUNSTONE ASSISTANT editor Cherie Woodworth passed away 23 July 2013. A Yale graduate, she was the author of many articles in a variety of publications. However, she is probably best (or most infamously) known for her satirical article “Furor Erupts in Brigham City Schools,” which, according to her article in issue 107 (September 1997) of Sunstone, went viral after she posted it to an email list. The problem was, no one seemed to know the article was satire, even when it was labeled as such.
In her memory, we reprint a portion of Cherie’s article in hopes that it may once again circumnavigate the globe and freak out bloggers everywhere.
Furor Erupts in Brigham City Schools
AP (BRIGHAM CITY, UTAH)—The Brigham City School Board met in an emergency session yesterday with the city council to consider allegations that the school district’s youngest charges were being inculcated with a pro-gay ideology and same-sex marriage.
The issue arose after scores of parents complained that children in the kindergarten class at Brigham Elementary were being led in a game which mimicked same-sex marriages. At issue was the game “The Farmer in the Dell.”
Renee Mott, the accused kindergarten teacher, explained: “The class is way overbalanced with girls. So when we play ‘Farmer in the Dell,’ sometimes I let a girl go first, so that everybody gets a turn.”
The problem arises with the next line of the children’s song: “the farmer takes a wife.” The girl-farmer would often choose another little girl to join her in the circle as the “farmer’s wife.”
“This is just setting a bad example to our young children,” said Jared Day, whose child is in the class. “If you don’t stand up for family values, this country is going to go right down the toilet.”
“It’s upsetting the natural order of things,” concurred Lisa Perkins, “and it’s upsetting me, too.”
The extent of the furor over this issue can be gauged by the number of town citizens who have got involved—far more than just the parents of students in the kindergarten class. At the extraordinary joint session of the school board and city council, over 200 parents showed up to voice concerns, and petitions were submitted with hundreds of names.
Parents in Brigham City have organized an action committee, and have stated that they will sue the school board and the kindergarten teacher personally for psychic damage to their children. They have asked a BYU Law School professor to represent them in the case, and have already drafted a law for the State legislature which would ban all play acting of same-sex marriage in the public schools.
When kindergarten teacher Renee Mott testified to the combined school board and town council that the situation had come about entirely innocently, her explanation was met with pronounced skepticism.
“I just wanted all the children to have a turn,” she concluded, visibly shaken.
“I don’t care how ‘innocent’ this thing started,” responded LeClare Moffatt, speaking for the combined council. “If not all the students get a turn, that just too bad. There are more important issues at stake here.”
“The farmer has to be a boy,” concurred Mayor Tom Merrill. “A boy gets picked first. That’s the way we always played the game, and that’s the way it should be played. You might as well get used to it.”
The extraordinary joint session of parents and school board dismissed after reaching a tentative solution. Regardless of class sex ratios, boys would be picked first. However, in the interest of fairness, the position of “the Cheese” would be reserved for a girl. At the end of the game, the children sing “the Cheese stands along, the Cheese stands alone. Hi ho the dairy-O, the Cheese stands alone.”
“That should be enough to make anyone happy,” concluded school board president Jack Peterson.