Sunday, September 13, 2009

Parents sue to keep school children from learning about bullying, lgbt families

I missed this two-week old but very important story:

Angry Parents Suing California Schools Over Mandatory Gay-Friendly Classes

Parents in the Alameda Unified School District were refused the right to excuse their kids from classes that would teach all kids in the district's elementary schools about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender alternative families.

The parents say they are concerned about "indoctrination" in the schools, but administrators say the course is needed to protect against sexual discrimination — and that the lessons are protected by laws in California and 10 other states.

Those states, which stretch from Washington to Maine, will now be eyeing the court results in California in a case that warring sides say pits parents' rights against a schools' responsibilities

Shades of the David Parker incident, but without the histronics of a parent orchestrating a phony moral panic and engaging in lies about his child "being taught about gay sex."

But one wonders if that implication of children "being taught how to be gay" is behind all of these concerns.

As this story continues to be known, this little detail will probably be obscured:

The contested California curriculum includes an annual 45-minute LGBT lesson taught to kids from kindergarten through the 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 classes began two years ago, when teachers noticed that even kindergarten students were using derogatory words about sexuality, such as "fag."

We'll probably hear talking points about "corrupting children" and questions of "why can't schools just focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic."

I've already seen carefully phrased comments about kindergartners "learning about sexual behavior."

One of the parents opposinig the curriculum does have a point regarding what children should be taught:

"My child has been the product of bullying because she's black," said Dion Evans, who noted that students have "never viewed a single video in the classroom" that deals with racism.

I don't know if Evans's claim is totally accurate (about racism not being dealt with in his child's class), but there does need to be something in place which teaches students to show respect for all people and all positive family environments.

And here is the problem. If such a mechanism was in place, just how long would it be before some phony pro-family group, some self-appointed guardian of the definition of "traditional values" would lobby school districts to exclude lgbt families?

But to put things in the here-and-now, just which one of these "morality groups" are behind the parental lawsuit?

The problem here does not lie with the school, but with some of the parents. They seem to be embracing an inaccurate notion that lgbts aren't raising children; that we aren't parents with concerns about how our children and family situations aren't being acknowledged in the classrooms. And these parents are also embracing the more deadly notion that lgbt children do not exist.

This is not a situation involving parents' rights because the schools aren't infringing on them. And yes these classes should be mandatory. What's wrong with teaching kindergartners the harm of teasing their classmates? What's wrong with breaking down sexual orienation stereotypes? What's wrong with acknowledging the existence of so-called alternative (but still highly beneficial) families?

It's a matter of simple fairness.

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Buffy said...

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

Same old, same old. The "traditional values" types teach their kids to treat others like dirt. Then the school has to address the problem and they act like they're being attacked. If they wouldn't act like such buttheads there wouldn't' be any issue in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I find it really hard the school never brought up racism, especially if they've already discuss LBGT people. I know in elementary I was taught all about how we shouldn't judge people by how they look, and even if they didn't do it the whole year its kinda hard not to bring up racism during black history month.