California’s school children, as young as kindergarten, would be required to learn about the contributions of gays, lesbians and the transgendered to American society as part of a bill pending before the state Senate.
“It’s an attack on our family and morals of our nation and so many children are falling for it,” said Orlean Koehle, a substitute teacher at Santa Rosa School District, north of San Francisco.
Koehl, the state president of the Eagle Forum of California, has closely monitored curriculum content in public schools after making national headlines several years ago by challenging a pro-gay assembly at one of the schools in her district.
“They had kept this assembly hush-hush and so none of the parents knew what was going on,” Koehle said.
In that instance, parents eventually prevailed in getting Santa Rosa officials to enact a policy that maintained parental rights over controversial content, the substitute teacher said. Now, Koehle and thousands of other pro-family advocates statewide are concerned that local policy such as that created by Santa Rosa, will be squelched with the passage of SB 1437, which some have warned will turn schools into sexual indoctrination centers.
“Everything is going to go up in the air,” Koehle said. “Everything we’ve worked so hard for could go away.”
Cathy Gibson, the San Diego area director for Concerned Women for America, agreed.
“This is really waking people up,” said
The law, said opponents, would also create a biased approached to homosexuality by prohibiting any textbooks, instructional materials or teaching content that would “adversely affect persons because of their gendereither real or perceivedor sexual orientation,” Ron Prentice, executive director of California Family Council, told CitizenLink.
Pro-family conservatives are vigorously fighting the measure, saying its passage would essentially force a top-down bureaucracy that usurps local control of school districts and creates an iron-clad barrier that prohibits Christian students from dialoguing about their beliefs. Teachers would also be prohibited from discussing studies that reflect information contrary to the pro-homosexual movement.
“This is all the incremental activity of the homosexual agenda, and it certainly appears that the next step in the public-school education code in California would be hate-speech codes for anything that might adversely affect gender, whether real or perceived,” Prentice told Citizenlink.
A vote on the bill was scheduled for mid-April, but it was delayed, with action expected the week of April 24, as the Christian Examiner was headed to press. Assuming it will pass the Democrat-controlled legislature, critics are already anticipating it could reach Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.
“This isn’t about safety or discrimination,” said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for California Families. “It’s about teaching boys they can wear girls’ clothes, girls that they can get sex-change operations to have their breasts removed, and teaching every child that marriage is no longer between a man and a woman.”
Conservatives have been launching e-mail and phone call campaigns to the capitol, saying they can’t count on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto the law because of his inconsistent record.
“He’s gone both ways on the gay thing,” Gibson said. “He vetoed the marriage bill, but endorsed Gay Pride Day.
Even if the bill is ultimately signed into law, Bob Stoody, a Ramona Unified School board member from San Diego County, and an advisory board member for the Pacific Justice Institute, said he believes the law would not survive legal challenge, citing First Amendment issues.
“It’s going to be pretty hard for them to defend a bill like that,” Stoody said.
Such a law, he said, would violate First Amendment rights for students and require teachers to ignore research that suggests a homosexual lifestyle results in a higher incidence of violence and that children raised in such homes tend to be at risk.
“All of the sudden to equate some other family setup as equal, we would not be able to tell them the truth,” he said.
Already too late?
Despite intense lobbying to try to derail the bill, conservatives who actively monitor California public schools warn that the homosexual agenda is already entrenched in many textbooks and curricula. Some California teachers have posted pink triangles in their rooms as a signal that their classrooms are a safe haven for homosexual students. In Los Angeles, reports surfaced a year or so ago about teachers posting information on where to find gay friendly night clubs, even though high-schoolers are well under the legal age to drink.
“It’s been an incremental thing,” said CWA’s Gibson, echoing Prentice. “The frustration that I have is that we, as conservatives, tend to give up. We are not willing to take it back a little at time.”
For many school districts, textbook selection has become a matter of the lesser of many evils.
“It’s been mandated from the top down at the local level,” Gibson said. “They have no choice. Every textbook has something in it. So you can’t stop it. The place where it is going to stop is in the individual classroom.”
Gibson’s husband, Jim, serves on the Vista Unified School District, in San Diego’s North County, giving her extended access to textbooks. Parents may also review the texts, she said.
The CWA leader said she was shocked by what she found in a high school text called “A History of Western Society.”
“It read a lot like erotica, it’s very detailed,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be.”
Passages include references to rape, mutilation, wife beatings, adultery, sodomy and sexual assaults on children.
In addition, online helps for students include Web links that lead to pro-gay sites, including “People With a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History,” “Pro-Gay Bible Texts,” “The Secret Gospel of Mark,” “The Experience of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages,” “Feminist Approaches to the Body and “Medieval Sourcebook: Sex and Gender.”
Parents are key
Although the sources for this story said they felt like they were on the down slide of a slippery slope, they also said they believe it’s not too late for parents to become involved in what their children are learningand to register their complaints.
“If we say, ‘Oh, well we live in a sinful world, then that’s what we get,’’ she said.
Numerous pro-family advocates indicated they believe the vote delay on SB 1437 came because of staunch pressure from conservatives. Even with the well-organized pro-gay lobby efforts, many pro-family actists said the elected representatives respond to phone calls and letters. Gibson said she believes it’s not to late for parents to put pressure on the Senate and Schwarzenegger.
“I truly think that some of these senators would say ‘Whoa, we’ve gone too far,’” Gibson said.
As disappointed as Gibson is with Sacramento’s liberal establishment, she said much of the blame rests with parents who abdicate their responsibility for monitoring their children’s work, especially their teen-agers.
“There is no way of knowing what’s in the books unless they are actually doing homework with their children,” Gibson said.
Stoody, the Ramona official, said it’s extremely important that parents do not back off during the teen years. He and Koehle both said they see a stark contrast in how parents respond to their children based on age, saying that in elementary school, “Everybody is cozy and normally the family is more involved and the kids don’t have as much responsibility.”
That dramatically falls off as the children reach adolescence.
“They don’t appear that they need the help, they are now self- sufficient,” Stoody said.
“We get fooled into thinking they don’t need the help, but the real truth is, they need us more than ever because so much is going on.”
While SB 1437 would make promotion of the homosexual movement more transparent, advocates said parents need to also be aware of more subtle content, which some have labeled revisionist.
Stoody prefers to call it the ellipses syndrome.
“It’s the dot, dot, dot,” he said. “That’s a good clue that it’s being sanitized.”
Such was the case, he believes, with Magruder’s American Government, a 12th-grade social sciencecivics textbook used in his district, a book that he said provides an unbalanced view.
“The sad part is that’s the best we can get,” he said. “There’s a need there that could be filled.”
As a result, he wrote a 20-page document for teachers highlighting areas where he believes the book falls short.
Finally, Stoody and the others warned, even if parents review the textbooks, conservative advocates warn that parents could be lured into a false sense of security.
“The same textbook can be taught two different ways in two different classrooms in the same school,” said Stoody, the father of eight.
Ultimately, parents must also be invested in the process of monitoring school policy, in addition to the classroom. Stoody said he would hope that would result in a strong partnership between home and campus.
“They need to be involved in the school, and I don’t mean come in with their guns blazing,” he said.
For more information on the proposed legislation, visit the CFC Web site at californiafamily.org.