|Back to Jan. Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 228||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||JANUARY 2005|
|Gay Agenda in Schools Riles Parents|
On the heels of lopsided votes against same-sex marriage in 11 state referenda last November, parents and students are becoming more vocal in resisting school programs aimed at support for the homosexual lifestyle.
In northeastern Kentucky, hundreds of students have defied the Ashland-Boyd County school district's "mandatory anti-harassment workshops" required by an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that also allows the Gay-Straight Alliance student group to meet in school buildings. Some 324 students did not come to school the day the tolerance training video was shown, and hundreds more refused to watch it.
The ACLU has threatened to seek a court order to enforce attendance. Joseph Platt, a lawyer representing parents, said "mandatory training on tolerance for homosexuals violates the right of conscience of parents and students who believe such behavior is immoral." (Washington Times, 12-1-04)
In Montgomery County, MD, pastors and parents are joining forces to oppose a new sex education program in high schools that promotes homosexuality. The program teaches 8th- and 10th-graders that sexual experimentation with members of the same sex is common and normal, that same-sex couples are one form of traditional family and that homosexuality is not a choice. The program also includes a video in which a girl is shown fitting a condom on a cucumber.
Parents must provide written permission for their child to participate in the week-long sex education program. Abstinence-only classes and an independent study option will be offered as alternatives, according to a spokeswoman for the county public school system.
The new curriculum also teaches that "a family is two or more people who are joined together by emotional feelings or who are related to one another." Three members of the citizens advisory committee that endorsed the curriculum resigned in protest, said Michelle Turner, a committee member and mother of a high school student.
"Sexual orientation being introduced to 8th-graders is totally inappropriate for such a young age and is only going to confuse kids, and it's contrary to what many parents want to teach their children," she said, adding that the parental permission slips should contain more detail about the program. "I don't understand why we have to teach kids how to put on a condom. If they can't figure out how to put on a condom, then they're too stupid to be having sex." (Washington Times, 11-11-04)
Meanwhile, a dozen organizations led by the National School Boards Association have issued "practical" guidelines to help school officials deal with legal issues involving students' sexual orientation and gender identity.
On a question about cross-dressing, the guide states: "A restriction on boys' wearing dresses to school would be appropriate in communities where such attire on males would result in substantial disruption of the learning process, but in other locales, cross dressing might actually be more socially acceptable and cause minimal disruption in school, making such a restriction less legally justifiable."
The guide continues, "Schools with sex-specific dress codes could consider making a narrow exception for transgender students - students who are biologically of one gender, but psychologically identify with the opposite gender." (CNSNews.com, 10-13-04)
One small-town school in east Texas actually held an official "cross-dressing day" on November 17. After prodding by Liberty Legal Institute, Spurger Elementary agreed to exempt two children from attendance based on their parents' moral convictions, as Texas law requires.
An Iowa parent has questioned the appropriateness of a book read to 6th-graders in which one of the four main characters is gay. The objection is being considered by a special committee and the school board in the Pleasant Valley School District.
A pastor spoke in support of the parent at a November open forum about the book, The Misfits by James Howe, which he described as having a homosexual overtone. "It would be one thing to have the book in the library," said Mike Fendley. "The issue is it is being read to students." He explained that he has no problem with the book being used at the high school level, but he believes parents should be notified of its use in elementary and junior high school. (qctimes.com, 11-26-04)
Pro-gay and anti-gay T-shirts continue to kindle disputes under school dress codes. The ACLU filed suit November 23 against a Webb City, MO school district for prohibiting a 16-year-old from wearing gay-pride T-shirts to school. School officials assert the shirts are disruptive, and have sent other students home who wore homemade gay-pride shirts in support of the first student. The mother of one of them expressed support for the school's position, saying "I would have never let her wear that shirt to school." (Associated Press, 12-5-04)
A student pulled out of class for wearing an anti-gay T-shirt has pressed a federal lawsuit against officials of Poway High School in the San Diego, CA area. The youth acted in response to a "Day of Silence" observed by some students in support of the rights of gays and lesbians. The Alliance Defense Fund took up the student's case and predicts it will wind up in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. (SignOnSanDiego.com, 11-6-04)
In a strange case involving a lesbian public school teacher, a 7th-grade language arts instructor in South Haven, MI has been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old former female student, participating in witchcraft and even "wedding" her in a pagan ritual. The teacher, who has been placed on leave from her job, lived with another woman and their adopted son prior to her arraignment. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. (Associated Press, 12-4-04)