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UPDATED LGBT lessons capture broadening spotlight

Submitted by on 1, May 8, 2009 – 10:00 am4 Comments

Updated 11:42 a.m. Friday, May 8

Looks like Alameda Unified’s proposed LGBT lessons have caught the eye of a Sacramento-based anti-gay Christian group.

A press release blasted out on the Christian NewsWire advances the school board’s scheduled May 12 public hearing on the proposed lessons, and its authors at the Sacramento-based Capitol Resource Institute are urging people to speak out against the curriculum.

From the release:

“Alameda needs to hear the clear opposition of people with traditional values. People with traditional values are not inherently intolerant and wrong, but that’s the lesson kids would get starting at age five,” said Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute. …

In kindergarten, being “welcoming” to all classmates is equated with supporting multisexuality. The first grade lesson plan trains children “to identify what makes a family” and teaches about same-sex couples. Third grade vocabulary includes “two moms” and “two dads.” Fifth graders are required “to identify stereotypes about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

“This curriculum ignores the fact that every child has a mom and a dad, to redefine ideas like ‘family.’ School absolutely should be a safe place, but this isn’t just about safety. Students have to embrace highly controversial social values or risk being labeled as bigots,” England said.

Locally, supporters are also gearing up to press their case before the board.

The lessons are being added to an existing anti-violence curriculum for all of the district’s elementary schools. The kindergarten lesson is based on a book called “The New Girl … and Me,” which is a story about how a new girl at school is received by other students. The book for the first grade lesson is called “Who’s in a Family?” and the lesson showcases different kinds of families, including those headed by gay and lesbian couples.

The words “gay,” “lesbian” and “LGBT” would be introduced in the fourth grade lesson. In fifth grade, students would talk about stereotypes about a number of groups, including lesbians and gays.

Some supporters who attended the school board’s last meeting, on April 28, said they think the revised curriculum doesn’t address LGBT issues strongly enough, while opponents said it’s still more than they want their kids to hear.

Superintendent Kirsten Vital said at that meeting that the district is seeking a legal opinion on whether parents can “opt out” of the lessons.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 12 at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

4 Comments »

  • David Kirwin says:

    AUSD keeps refering to "existing anti-violence curriculum for all of the district’s elementary schools"

    Can you explain what this is? Why it is failing?

    • Sure. What they're referring to is the Caring School Curriculum, which I think was put in place in 2006.

      And I think what the district has been saying about this, if I've got it right, is that they wish to put in place more specific tools to deal with anti-gay language and bullying that is taking place at the schools, and that they also want to reflect positive images of gays and lesbians in their curriculum that are already in place for folks with many other family types and backgrounds but are now non-existent for LGBT youths and families.

  • JonSpangler says:

    I support the original curriculum on LGBT inclusion and "safe schools" for all students. It offers our teachers more tools for doing their complicated and demanding jobs. (And, in its original form, it was already very conservatively designed by AUSD teachers, IMHO.

    Grade 4 is FAR too late to "introduce" the correct definitions and usages for words like "gay" and "lesbian," when kids in grades K-1 are already using those words (and worse!) to bully, harass, and denigrate their peers on the yard. (I heard them do it at Franklin Elementary as a volunteer noon supervisor for three years.)

    The words "gay" and "lesbian" are equivalent to ""straight" and "married," in that they describe families that many real AUSD students have at home. Teachers in K-3 need to be able to teach these words in order to accurately teach the demographics of our community and help students to accept each other's families, regardless of their composition, lifestyle, or religious practices.

    No student should be left "out in the cold" and made to feel invisible because the accurate and normal words they use to describe their own families are prohibited until a later grade. This is NOT a s*x education curriculum, it is a curriculum to diminish harassment, bullying, and violence against children and families.

  • David Kirwin says:

    Judging from all the reported harassment still ongoing in our school district, can we infer that AUSD should look for a curriculum other than CSC? Or was the reported 10/08 survey of the teachers that showed teachers want training on how to deal with harassment symptomatic of the District buying the use of specific programs, but never instructing teachers how to use the programs? Or am I correct in assuming staff want specific written instruction and guidelines for dealing with harassment so they (staff), can meet the BOE Policy of intervening whenever harassment is witnessed, but they (staff), want clarity on how to respond without assuming any personal liability?

    It is because of all the harassment still happening in our schools that I feel it is obvious this LGBT-only curriculum for only K-5, is the wrong direction.

    I’m perplexed by those that disagree when less than 20 – 25% of all school harassment is directed at actual or perceived LGBT issues (almost 50% is based on ethnicity / nationality, and more harassment is religious based than LGBT based), and what portion of LGBT-based harassment is the misuse of words in K-5 compared to specifically hurtful LGBT-related harassment in middle and high school? So it seems proponents want a curriculum to address 5-10% of the ongoing harassment.

    How can a failing anti-harassment program justify an LGBT-only curriculum? Why would we use the same Caring Schools Curriculum-based curricula if it is not meeting goals where we have used other lessons of the program?

    Michele, I thank you for your time in getting back to me, but I don’t see the logic or rational in pursuing this proposal.

    Happy Mother’s Day

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