Recall opponents meet Thursday
Opponents of an effort to recall three school board trustees who voted for anti-gay bullying lessons to be taught in the Island’s public elementary schools are mobilizing. They’re holding a public organizing meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the main branch of the Alameda Free Library, 1550 Oak Street.
Recall proponents have begun collecting signatures for their petitions to recall trustees Tracy Jensen, Ron Mooney and Nielsen Tam. They, too, have scheduled a public meeting, from 10 a.m. to noon on September 26, also at the main library.
“We are organizing people to work. We will be working for unity and respect in our community against hate,” said Leland Traiman, who is organizing to halt the recall efforts.
Traiman said proponents “are trying to use Alameda as a beachhead for their right wing culture wars. I suspect most Alamedans will not stand for it.”
The anti-gay bullying lessons have drawn national attention, with reporters at the conservative-leaning Fox News saying a separate lawsuit filed by parents seeking an opt-out from the lessons could be a test case for the entire country. A hearing on that case is set for October.
Local blogger John Knox White’s petition to oppose the recall has garnered about 1,600 signatures. Recall proponents will need 8,810 valid signatures – or 20 percent of Alameda’s registered voters – in order to get their recall petitions on the ballot.
Henry Villareal of Alameda C.A.R.E., a group that supported efforts to put the lessons in place, stopped by the School Board meeting on Tuesday night to thank Mooney, Jensen and Tam for supporting the lessons. And he said the group’s members never intended to put the gay community’s need for recognition and support ahead of the need of other groups.
“We are saddened that the Caring Schools Curriculum Lesson 9 has become a competition between various constituencies,” Villareal said, referring to the anti-gay bullying lessons.
Opponents of the lessons have accused the district of failing to address bullying on the basis of race, religion and other factors. Interim Assistant Superintendent Ruben Zepeda is spearheading an effort to broaden the district’s anti-violence curriculum to include other groups.