Conservative groups concerned about a new state law that prohibits curriculum and instructional materials in public schools that contain a bias against homosexuality have launched a two-prong attack to block its Jan. 1 implementation.
The groups are working to reverse SB 777, called the California Student Civil Rights Act, which was signed Oct. 12 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The law bans "promoting a discriminatory bias" against homosexuals, transsexuals, bisexuals and transgenders and redefines gender into the state education code. It also removes local authority from school districts to determine coursework content for their students by making the ban mandatory statewide. Under existing law, the state could recommend policies, but school districts had the ultimate decision power.
On Nov. 27, Advocates for Faith and Freedom plan to file a federal lawsuit in San Diego challenging the law. The plaintiffs are members of the California Education Committee and include a student, coach and school board members from San Diego County. Other plaintiffs are located in other Southern California cities. Robert Tyler, founder of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, said they are still looking for additional plaintiffs, including public school students, their teachers, administrators, parents, coaches and school board members.
Tyler said they will seek a summary judgment seeking to dismiss the law outright. A key element of the new law is the protection of a person's perceived gender.
"This bill defies common sense," he said. "I trust the court system will not throw out all societal norms."
Tyler, citing Romans Chapter 1, said the new law is dangerous in that "the truth is replaced with a lie."
"There is one fundamental truth," he said. "There is one creator of the earth and all of mankind and he created man and woman. This throws out even the most basic of truth, we were created by God, both male and female. This law says you are what you think you are. It doesn't matter what your anatomy is. It only matters what you think you are. It is just undermining truth … It's such a dangerous experiment."
Asking the people
The second approach is a voter's referendum, which is already in circulation. If the referendum is approved by voters, it would block the bill from becoming law.
During its first few days of release, more than 50,000 petitions have been distributed through Capitol Resource Family Impact, an action committee of Sacramento-based Capitol Resource Institute. Of those, 9,700 have been requested by individuals.
Karen England, executive director of CRI, said Family Impact needs 434,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the June ballot. The group has just 90 days to gather the required signatures. Because of errors and duplications, the goal is to collect 777,000 signatures, England said.
Since the referendum has been OK'd by the secretary of state, SB 777 cannot be implemented until the referendum process is complete, meaning the scheduled Jan. 1 start of the bill will be delayed. The target date to have the petitions turned into the state is Jan. 4.
England said Focus on the Family has agreed to send petitions to all 125,000 people on its California database. In addition, churches are being asked to serve as distribution and collection centers.
The Sacramento family policy expert said her office has been inundated with people who are angered by the bill. Many said they were blindsided by the governor's decision to sign the bill, one of several pro-gay measures winning his approval.
"It's like the fairness doctrine for homosexuals in the schools," England said.
Because of the length of measure, it cannot be downloaded from the Internet, but petitions will be mailed out by request. For more information, visit www.saveourkids.net. For more information about the lawsuit, visit www.faith-freedom.com.