Tags: Parents | Protest | Schools' | Promotion | Homosexuality

Parents Protest Schools' Promotion of Homosexuality

Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM

The California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (AB 537) does not obligate schools to tell parents about classroom instruction that might conflict with their religious or moral beliefs and does not give parents the opportunity to take their children out of the instruction, legal analysts said.

The law met one of its first legal challenges when parents of students at Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) in Hayward, a suburb of San Francisco, said recent policies enacted by the school board under AB 537 are in direct conflict with parental authorization required by the state's Education Code.

At issue is an April 10 resolution by the school board directing the adoption of a "safe school plan" to protect students and staff from harassment or violence.

"The 'Safe Schools For All' training is intended to address the issues of school safety for all students and staff, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning youth and staff," the resolution said.

Attorney Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing parents opposed to the law, said the HUSD resolution unilaterally overrides parental rights guaranteed by the California Education Code and federal law.

"The school board mistakenly believes that allowing teachers to flaunt homosexuality to students is required, and they are wrong. In fact, the district is exposing itself to potential costly litigation," he said.

Supporters say AB 537, which was signed by Gov. Gray Davis (D), prevents violence in public schools by adding actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination policy in the state's Education Code.

Kimberly Hammond, the HUSD chief administration officer, said the intent of the resolution is not to "teach about homosexuality.

"The curriculum and the training for the staff is intended to help them address issues of school safety," she said. "So there is not per se a curriculum for teaching about gays and lesbians."

Under the law, school district employees, "like those of all public entities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, age, religious creed, sexual preference and/or orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, ancestry or national origin.

"HUSD has an obligation to provide proper training to comply with applicable laws and board policies to support safe environments for students and staff that are free from discrimination, violence or abuse," the resolution said.

Nancy Moore, a Hayward parent with two children in local schools, said the interpretation of the school resolution conflicted with the values she teaches her children.

"As a parent, I want academics taught to my child," Moore said. "If they want to socialize the kids as far as family issues or sex education issues are concerned, put it in sex education curriculum, send a note home to the parents letting them know they're going to have a speaker to discuss this. Let me know what's going on."

Instead, the attitude of school district officials was that they were going to integrate homosexuality into the normal curriculum, that they were under no obligation to inform her, and if she protested, it was because she was prejudiced, Moore said.

"And that's not the truth. What I'm asking is for Hayward Unified School District to stick to the Education Code. I'm asking for every student and every teacher to be respected. I'm asking for the law to prosecute individuals who harass or commit violence against another individual," Moore said. "But don't force something down my throat."

After being contacted by Hayward parents, Dacus sent a letter to the Hayward school board saying the resolution lacked legal justification and demanded that the policy be rescinded.

However, Dacus said he anticipates more and more California school districts to adopt similar policies. He rejected the contention that such policies are needed to protect students and teachers from being harassed.

"The fact is, the safety umbrella is what is being used to justify all of these aggressive campaigns that do nothing less than openly promote homosexuality to students who are working through very sensitive gender identity issues in their early adolescence," Dacus said.

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The California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (AB 537) does not obligate schools to tell parents about classroom instruction that might conflict with their religious or moral beliefs and does not give parents the opportunity to take their children out of...
Parents,Protest,Schools',Promotion,Homosexuality
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2002-00-28
Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM
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