Friday, May 22, 2009

Gay Curriculum Proposal Riles Elementary School Parents

Friday , May 22, 2009

By Katle Landan

A group of parents in a California school district say they are being bullied by school administrators into accepting a new curriculum that addresses bullying, respect and acceptance -- and that includes compulsory lessons about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community that will be taught to children as young as 5 years old.

The parents from the Unified School District in Alameda, a suburb of San Francisco and Oakland, say these issues are best learned at home and most definitely are not age-appropriate for elementary school children.

The parents are also angry that they will not be allowed to keep their children out of the classes.

“I believe these children are far too young to be learning about what these issues mean,” said Alaina Stewart, who has three children who attend elementary school in Alameda. “These are adult issues and they are being thrust upon the children.”

But the school board says otherwise, and its attorneys say that if the curriculum is adopted, the parents will have no legal right to remove their children from class when the lessons are being taught.

"By not allowing kids to opt out," says David Kirwin, who has two children in the system, "the school district is violating a First Amendment right for those who have a religion that doesn't support homosexuality."

The proposed curriculum will include a 45-minute LGBT lesson, once a year from kindergarten through fifth grade. The kindergartners will focus on the harms of teasing, while the fifth graders will study sexual orientation stereotypes.

The move toward the new curriculum began two years ago, when teachers noticed that even kindergarten students were using derogatory words about sexuality, such as “fag.”

“Students reported feeling bullied,” said Kirsten Vital, superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District. “This work is in response to teachers asking for tools to combat name-calling and bullying at school.”

Among the course materials that could be added to the curriculum is "And Tango Makes Three," a children’s book about gay penguins struggling to create a family. The book has been banned in some areas of the country.

In response to the controversy surrounding the proposed curriculum, the school board has held two public debates this month.

One parent told an “overwhelming” majority of parents spoke out against LGBT instruction at one of the meetings, but that public opinion had little impact.

“The chairman of the school board repeatedly claimed to the audience that the curriculum is evenly supported and opposed,” said a parent named David, who asked that his last name be withheld.

“I am beginning to lose confidence of the board, as it seems to have a preconceived political agenda and not truly represent their constituent’s opposition to the curriculum,” he said.

But other parents say they are in full support of the proposed curriculum.

“Our schools are a reflection of our community and world,” said Marianne Bartholomew-Couts. “From a very early age, children should see what exists in the world.”

Michael Williams, another parent, thinks LGBT issues will come up anyway, and that teachers should be prepared. “The teachers would have the tools under the new curriculum to help kids respond appropriately,” he said.

California is no stranger to the controversy surrounding gay issues. Last November, voters passed Proposal 8, which overturned a Supreme Court ruling and banned gay marriage in the state.

The situation in Alameda is no different from the statewide ballot initiative: it has caught the attention of several organizations on both sides of the issue.

Ryan Schwartz, National Outreach Manager for GroundSpark—a non-profit organization that seeks justice in education—told that teachers are responsible for creating an environment where students can feel comfortable and learn. Teaching the golden rule won’t cut it, he said.

“Instead of having to police the schoolyard for bullying,” said Schwartz, “this curriculum is designed to prevent it from the beginning.”

But other groups think the new curriculum is not balanced in whom it protects.

“Under law, there are five categories of protected classes when it comes to discrimination,” explained Karen England, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Resource Institute, an organization that advocates conservative policy on social issues.

"The curriculum focuses on only one subgroup protected under anti-discrimination laws: sexual orientation.”

England said she believes Alameda's curriculum committee has purposely excluded religion, even though it is one of the protected classes. “This indicates an agenda is being pushed, as opposed to an altruistic attempt to teach tolerance,” she said.

Members of the school board will vote on Tuesday whether to adopt the new curriculum. Vital, the superintendent, would not comment on the expected outcome.

“No matter what the outcome is, we need to do some work as a community to come together around issues of diversity, acceptance and understanding of one another,” she said.

Samples of the curriculum can be found at and


LovableLoser said...

If all else fails, students with moral qualms can be "sick" on the days in which there are lessons on homosexuality.

V said...

ha ha ha, oh what a heated issue it is to talk about teaching "little Timmy kindergartener" that a man can love a man. It boils down to this; if we can teach issues like racial equality in schools there is no reason that we shouldn't be allowed to teach acceptance in areas like sexual orientation. Karen England would have us believe that this school board is pushing a "gay agenda", she would also likely say that this is all some big "gay conspiracy" aimed at corrupting the minds of our perfect little Aryan robots, the fact of the matter is that teaching children to accept homosexuality is really a duty of the school system. Our schools are designed to prepare our children for the rigors of everyday society, and the reality is that-you will come across a gay person at some point in your life and steps should be taken to teach kids that they are out there and they are just as human as you or I.
I hate to make this such a long drawn out discourse but I take issue with another thing Karen England said, "Alameda's curriculum committee has purposely excluded religion, even though it is one of the protected classes" thats because if they did include it they would undoubtedly forget a faction of Christianity, or a far eastern religion whos pronunciation would baffle you or I, and the hate mail would flood the principles desk, his secretaries, and likely cause the postal worker to.....well go postal. How does one teach religious tolerance ? Thats not rhetorical I'm literally asking how in the name of (God, Allah, Shiva, Jahova, Buddha, or any other deity you like). Inherently religions cannot tolerate each other, for instance Book 5 verse 51 of the Koran goes something like this "O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies" this is why we cant teach religious tolerance, the religions themselves have a warlike element built into them so until one wipes out all others there will never be religious tolerance.

Yours truly,

reagan 08 said...

Thank you V for not being able to spell or make a convincing argument.
"Religion" is a group you have made generalizations about based on the aspects of one, Islam. Nowhere in Christian dogma is the exclusion/killing of the unbelieving advocated. When we speak of all ideas as equally true, regardless of logical argumentation, we make it certain that society will stagnate. If we continue to move toward moral relativism, in about ten years we will all be gelatinous masses sitting around a table agreeing with each other but never doing anything USEFUL!