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School district softens LGBT curriculum

Submitted by on 1, April 27, 2009 – 6:00 amOne Comment

Officials at Alameda Unified are offering a new and softer version of their proposed LGBT lessons for students in the district’s elementary schools to the school board at its meeting Tuesday. (Check under “Hot Topics” when you click the link.)

A public hearing on the proposed curriculum is set for May 12, and the board could vote on whether to approve it on May 26.

District officials have laid out scripted, specific lesson plans for each elementary grade that they are billing as an extension of an existing anti-violence curriculum put in place in 2006. And they have made several changes to what they are proposing to teach.

The district’s original first-grade lesson would have included the book “Asha’s Mums,” a story about a girl who has lesbian parents. The revised lesson would instead use “Who’s in a Family?” which includes different types of families, including those headed by gays and lesbians. Its second grade lesson had the words “gay” and “lesbian” listed as suggested vocabulary words. Those words have since been moved into the fourth grade lesson.

The kindergarten lesson would still feature “The New Girl … and Me,” a story about the treatment a new girl at school receives. The vocabulary words for the lesson are “name-calling,” “exclude,” “hurtful,” “teasing,” “similar,” “different” and “comfortable.”

Lessons for grades 4 and 5 would hear an essay from a youth with gay parents describing his school experiences and would discuss stereotypes, respectively.

Supporters of the curriculum plan have said it’s needed to address anti-gay slurs and bullying that occur as early as kindergarten, while opponents said they thought it offered too much information, too soon and that it focused too much on gay issues and should be more broad-based.

One Comment »

  • Jon Spangler says:


    It appears that the opponents of inclusion are winning this fight to end school yard bullying and discrimination, and the May 12 public hearing has not even been held yet. (Are they “bullying” the AUSD and the victims of harassment? It feels like it.)

    When I was in elementary school long ago, I learned about bullying behavior on the playground (I was on the receiving end) and derogatory language long before I reached the 5th grade. As a volunteer noon supervisor at Franklin Elementary for 3 years, I heard students in grades K-3 tossing around the “4th-5th grade” vocabulary to hurt their school mates–sometimes without knowing what the words really signified. That tells me that we need to introduce the controversial words early, not later on.

    The parents who are concerned that words like “lesbian” and “gay” would be introduced too soon for their children do not know that their kids already hear (and use) those words almost every day at school. I wish that I had learned the LGBT vocabulary early on in elementary school and not in high school (and on my own, not in class).

    I do not have kids of my own, but have spent time supporting Alameda’s young people in several ways as a volunteer, and I supported the original AUSD anti-harassment curriculum. (Still do, even in its weakened form.)
    And, for the record, I am a 57-year-old Caucasian man, straight, happily married to Linda Hudson, and we are
    heavily involved in St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco.

    There is still a very real need for a more inclusive and accepting culture in our community and our schools: a gay friend of ours here in the Bay Area has had bricks thrown at him simply because some young people thought he “looked gay.” I would hate to see anything remotely like that occur here in Alameda, especially in our schools.

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