People have become paranoid freaks. It's all these movies and news reports about pedophiles. It's not a new thing, we're just more aware. Through the magic of the internet I've talked to several people who were molested as kids way back in the 70's before nobody ever worried about it; so it still happened.
And men are stereotyped to be the opposite of nurturing, which is what you're supposed to be to teach young kids. That, and we're supposed be sex animals and constantly think about it and want it. I've heard it said that men think about sex every 7 seconds. That may be kinda true in my case... but most of us have more substance than that. Even I have other interests.
One of my friends has a brother who actually is qualified to teach elementary school, but he ended up getting hired as a high school Spanish teacher. The district badly needs elementary teachers, but they didn't want him. I've met him, and he's a nice enough guy, married with 2 kids, so I guess being married doesn't always help.
Actually, my best friend and I were talking about this last week and came up with this same thing. I had invited him along to spend lunch with my nephew for Public School Week, and he had made a few jokes about everyone staring at him as we walked into the cafeteria. We'd gone to the library with my nephew and I let the two of them browse through the book fair while I helped my mom (a librarian aide). When we had gotten back to the car (after I'd returned my nephew to his class) we started talking about how my friend felt that everyone was staring at him in the cafeteria and how its just the general perception that men shouldn't be in primary schools. I'm not sure where the break is where its socially acceptable to have men in the classrooms, but this was the exact discussion we had.
Honestly, I think if a male were established in the community, or already known in the district and the school supported him, then there wouldn't be *that* much of an issue. Yes, for the first two or three years the parents would be upset or nervous about it, but if the school stuck by him, then the parents would have no other choice but to give him a chance or withdraw their student. Eventually the opinion would change.
Also, why does this sexist attitude not apply to P.E. coaches or principals in elementary schools? I know when I was in elementary school, my PE coach was a man. Is it simply because its a more physical "class"?
Do I think its right this sexism exists? Not at all. Do I think its right that people don't want homosexuals teaching our kids? No. Its actually counter-productive, however many people do consider men to be much less nurturing than women and that's the issue. If a man is nurturing enough to be teaching elementary school, then he must either want something more or must have that "excess of estrogen" that people associate with homosexuality.
At least that's how I see it. Unfortunately, I think if enough parents complained to the school about a male teacher in elementary school, the school wouldn't support him. Furthermore, its likely there will be false accusations charged against the teacher, which most schools wouldn't want to deal with.