After surveying parents, the Evesham School District has agreed to suspend the showing of the controversial video

That's a Family!

to third-grade students.

In a statement released yesterday, administrators said they would convene "a special review committee to carefully examine the film and evaluate its appropriateness."

That's a Family! is a half-hour video that depicts children explaining their various family structures, including single parents, divorced parents, adoptive parents and others. The film also contains a segment on families headed by same-sex couples, which sparked the ire of some parents.

School officials said the video was meant to teach diversity and respect for all families, as part of the state-mandated health curriculum.

The district's decision to suspend the showing of the video comes two weeks after administrators held a viewing for parents. Afterward, a debate raged, with parents at times shouting each other down.

The majority of the parents who spoke at that meeting opposed That's a Family!, saying the video was inappropriate for 8-year-olds and that lessons of diversity should be taught at home.

Others called the video "disgusting," and one woman stood to shout that third graders "don't need to see homosexual people in the classroom."

After that meeting, the district surveyed parents who were not able to attend, asking whether they would want their children to be excused from watching the video. More than 90 percent responded, with the results split about evenly.

The district said the review committee would include parents, teachers and administrators, and would make a recommendation on the video by September.

The state Board of Education offers training on incorporating That's a Family! into the classroom, saying it meets a health curriculum requirement that students "identify different kinds of families and explain that families may differ for many reasons."

The controversy in Evesham has gained national attention, with radio talk-show hosts, the Fox News network and others doing stories. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly asked in an online poll this week if "8 years old is too young for a public school student to hear about homosexuality." He said 92 percent responding said it was.

Garden State Equality, a prominent New Jersey gay-rights group, also has weighed in, calling for activists to turn out at the next Evesham school board meeting on Tuesday.

The group's leader, Steven Goldstein, yesterday called the school district's decision "outrageous and unacceptable" and "clearly motivated out of fear."

"The school district clearly caved in, and too bad they didn't have the courage of their convictions," Goldstein said. "We're not going to let up. All of us who believe in diversity will not let up."

Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 856-779-3893 or