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Lessons on gays’ contributions spark fresh controversy

Submitted by on 1, April 1, 2011 – 12:02 am12 Comments

New state legislation that seeks to ensure the accomplishments of gays are accurately reflected in California’s classrooms is causing fresh controversy here in Alameda, where the school district’s efforts to put anti-gay bullying lessons in place at elementary schools pitted local religious conservatives against gay-led families and their allies.

Last week, several Alameda residents told The Island they got an e-mail from a group called Committee to Change AUSD School District urging them to contact members of the state Senate’s Education Committee and request that they vote against SB 48, a bill from Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that would add sexual orientation and religion to the list of characteristics that can’t be reflected adversely in instructional materials.

“If passed, it would force all teachers to virtually praise the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) and their lifestyles one-sidedly in all Kindergarten to Grade 12 classes for all subjects, against the beliefs and principles of the teachers, parents, and taxpayers in California!” the anonymous e-mail, which called the fight against the bill a “crucial battle,” says.

It says the group has “already lined up teachers and parents as plaintiffs” for a lawsuit to stop the bill if passed.

“But if we can stop them at the California Legislature, that would save us much money, time, and efforts. We also need to show them our determination and capability now,” it says.

One parent who forwarded the e-mail to The Island called it a “disturbing screed” filled with “hateful misinformation.” Others writing into the Alameda Parents Network e-mail list last week offered their opposition to the missive.

“How do these haters even feel like it’s OK to send this garbage out? How can we put pressure on these jerks to stop the madness?” one parent wrote in under the subject line, Bigotry in Alameda, It’s Time to Stop–No Tolerance for Intolerance.

Leno’s bill would add sexual orientation and religion to a list of characteristics that can’t be reflected adversely in California schools’ instructional materials and adds gays to the list of groups whose contributions must be reflected accurately in the classroom. Both are protections that several other groups of people currently enjoy.

“Current law requires that the historical contributions of traditionally underrepresented groups be included in instructional materials. The absence of any reference to the many important historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) Americans to the development of this state and nation is a powerful exception,” Leno wrote in explaining the purpose of the bill.

“The historically inaccurate exclusion of LGBT Americans in social sciences instruction as well as the spreading of negative stereotypes in school activities sustains an environment of discrimination and bias in schools throughout California. This is a primary obstacle to addressing California’s bullying epidemic that continues to plague a majority of LGBT youth,” he wrote.

A similar bill authored by former state Senator Sheila Kuehl was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

School district leaders’ 2009 consideration and adoption of anti-gay bullying lessons for Alameda’s elementary school students sparked a battle between religious conservatives and others who opposed the lessons and gay parents and their supporters that drew national attention. Dubbed Lesson 9, the lessons’ opponents led unsuccessful lawsuits against them and an aborted recall drive against the three school board members who voted to adopt them.

The group that sent last week’s e-mail opposing Leno’s bill promoted two fresh candidates, James Pruitt and Lesson 9 opponent Clay Pollard, during the most recent school board election in November. Both lost.

The group’s website accuses school district leaders of mismanaging the district’s money.

Sean Cahill, a parent who worked to get Lesson 9 passed who also received the e-mail, will be offering his experiences with a Senate committee considering the bill on Tuesday. And he has asked other local supporters of the bill to join him.

“This is something that’s larger that Alameda,” Cahill said. “It’s important to have accurate information and to share what happened here.”


  • Jon Spangler says:

    I received the email and had seen previous emails from the Capitol Resource Institute, the right-wing “pro-family” group out of Sacramento that carpet-bagged into Alameda to help foment opposition to the Lesson 9 anti-bullying curricula.

    The only thing Senator Leno’s SB 48 would do is balance the scales. It would ensure that the significant historical contributions of members of the LGBTQ community are presented in their full context. What is wrong with accuracy and providing context like that?

    The opposition to SB 48 and the anti-bullying efforts by people identifying themselves as THE “Christian” community should not be taken by Alamedans as being representative of the majority of followers of Jesus Christ in this community. Nor should their judgmental and exclusionary belief system be seen as representing Biblical truth as is it is widely understood by the mainline Christian church or its most accurate and highly-respected theological traditions and insights. “Love one another as I have loved you…” is a universally-applicable “job description.”

    In fact, I suspect that our founder, the carpenter and preacher from Nazareth, would not approve of unloving, judgmental, uncharitable, unjust, and exclusionary actions against any human being, regardless of her/his gender, orientation, national origin, religion, race, or other human characteristics.

  • Barbara says:

    Unfortunately, I do not see you doing it. You are judgmental, full of hate and you lack compassion for those who do not think like you. You are interesting, twisted individual pushing your agenda into others throats. Just follow golden rule and leave others alone.

    Because you are picking and choosing, it may appear as making sense, but it is soo twisted and it lacks disciplined thinking. Again, stop judging.

  • Steve says:

    “But if we can stop them at the California Legislature, that would save us much money, time, and efforts. ”

    This is a very telling and instructive comment. One of my beefs with the way Progressives go about promoting their agenda is that they are almost always on the defensive. State Senator Leno’s proposed legislation puts Progressives on the offense and, if passed, will indeed require that the Christian Right spend lots of time, money and effort in the courts and in every school district in California. Tie-up the Christian Right in this fight and they’ll have fewer resources to throw at their other mischief-making.

  • GotRocks says:

    Incredible, the teachers in this state just had a HISSY FIT about having the state tell them how to teach reading…but I have yet to hear one of them complain that the state will now DEMAND that they glorify gays.

    • Adam Gillitt says:

      “The Island welcomes reader comments that are constructive and on-topic. Full names are requested to comment.”

      GotRocks says:
      1, April 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Incredible, the teachers in this state just had a HISSY FIT about having the state tell them how to teach reading…but I have yet to hear one of them complain that the state will now DEMAND that they glorify gays.

      Michele, please be consistent with your stated standards, and delete this comment.

      • Barbara says:

        What GotRocks said is intelligent, and it is an opinion which many share, despite lacking name. Some people feel less comfortable with displaying their names because they can be targeted with progressive agenda/hate toward Christians. And it is true that progressives have no mercy. Sad, because they are for tolerance, but on their own terms. Truth does not have to scream “delete, delete”, unless it is deliberate manipulation. When I’ll send my kids to school, I expect them to learn math and English. I did not send them to be socially “enhanced”, because school is not a community center.

        Now, what I am supposed to do with a kid who knows all about condoms and how to use them, but does not know multiplication table?

        • Adam Gillitt says:

          Barbara- My objection to the comment above is because it has nothing to do with point of the article: Mark Leno “add[ing] sexual orientation and religion to the list of characteristics that can’t be reflected adversely in instructional materials” to State Legislation. It’s just a slur against LGBT people, and another perpetuation of the hateful myth that equal rights somehow glorifies regular human beings. Hiding behind anonymity to say such things makes it all the more cowardly. I don’t where you see intelligence or Christian tolerance displayed in the comment above, and I’m sure you have better things to defend with your time.

  • Betty says:

    What is going on in this world? We are involved in wars that we have no business being involved in. We have a country with a nuclear meltdown. We have kids graduating from school not being able to read or write. We have unwanted children being born and addicted to drugs. We have children being killed in our streets. We have people without jobs and losing everything. We have people who are sick that cannot get medical insurance. Do I need to go on?
    And here we are back in the victorian age so worried about what people do in the bedroom. Well, I really don’t care what you do or anyone else does. I like people for who they are not what they are.
    So, get a life and start putting your time, money and energy to helping your fellow man not destroying someone because of something that is none of your business.
    All this stuff should be unnecessary, how pathetic we are that it is.

  • hobnob says:

    I say if you want to ban GLBT from the acedemics and textbooks, the same must be stated for any religion. There may be no room in the classrooms for either, children can form their own opinions as long as teachers are banned from also displaying their personal beliefs from both subjects. they must always answer with a netural position in the school when asked about either subject. Yes, the parents can mold their own children’s opinions about these subjects, but it’s the parents right to… the child as they grow up can make their own informed decisions later down the line.

    Anti-bullying should be taught though, basically, it’s not right to bully anyone period b/c of anything.

    It should be equal exclusion of sexual orientation and religion from textbooks unless it’s for historical accuracy. However, I do agree with equal opportunity. If a school, teacher, or AUSD is pushing God and Religion, then there should be equal push for GLBT…

    • Barbara says:

      “If a school, teacher, or AUSD is pushing God and Religion, then there should be equal push for GLBT…”

      I am for math, English, physics, chemistry, biology and of course geography as a separate subjects (not to mention sports and art). Other than that, it is politically correct always changing political agenda of people in power.

      Now, because they want to add something and not to extend any school time, what will be given up? What teaching will be eliminated?

  • hobnob says:

    where does it say it’s adding something other than maybe adding source material to the textbooks? If it’s historically accurate, then add it in.

    If you want to learn about religion, you can go to a catholic school, but for public school, it should be historically accurate. If that means adding GLBT context in, then yes. So unless we’re excluding religion from textbooks, we shouldn’t be excluding GLBT context either.

    I’m not advocating to make a class out of these 2 subjects, I would not support that.

    • Barbara says:

      Religion? I do not think that those groups want this bill and religion in the books. Otherwise they would be for it.
      Advanced Marketing Concepts, Inc.
      Bible Baptist Church
      California Right to Life Committee, Inc.
      Calvary Chapel of South Lake Tahoe
      Calvary Christian Church
      Capitol Resource Institute
      Concerned Parents United
      Concerned Women for America of California
      Concerned Women for America of Central California
      Diversity Reform USA
      Eagle Forum of Sacramento
      Faith Assembly of God
      First Southern Baptist Church
      GateWay Bible Church
      Hamilton Square Baptist Church
      Heritage Christian Fellowship
      New Harvest Christian Fellowship
      Novato Parents & Family Coalition
      Praise Center Church
      Protect Kids Foundation
      Riverpark Bible Church
      The Conservative Party (California)
      Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship
      Traditional Values Coalition
      Vallejo Involved Parents & Students
      Numerous individuals

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