Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 28, 2009

You can pull all the stops out

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 7:03 am

I was on vacation last week so I have been catching up with the comments section, some of the most interesting ones came in the Words Like Violence post in light of the revised curriculm for the Elementary School Caring School Curriculum which will be on the agenda at tonight’s  School Board meeting.  One of the main questions that popped into my head while reading some of the comments was: where is this Gay Agenda and where can I get a copy of it? 

Then my mind wanders off and I wonder what a Gay Agenda might look like and wonder if getting a mani-pedi comes before or after the “muzzling of the clergy and Christian media” and if — at some point — there might be time for a chorus of You Gotta Have a Gimmick. 

And then I went off to review the curriculum itself, while — personally — I would be more than comfortable with my own children sitting through the first set.  The revised set is fine too.   Personally, I think the School District made a big mistake by presenting the initial curriculum the way that they did which was — from what I can tell — handouts that accompanied the documentary film It’s Elementary.   The new versions area  lot cleaner and more straightforward.

Someone asked if parents would be allowed to review the texts and complete curriculum prior to the final decision being made on May 12.   Personally, if I were concerned about the text I wouldn’t wait for it to be handed to me on a silver platter, but rather actively going out and seeking these texts/videos to understand what it is that I might be objecting to.   Here is the proposed list of texts/videos by grade:

While searching for information about the texts, I ran across this 2005 article from Massachusettes about a father who was arrested for not leaving his child’s school after the kid brought home Who’s In a Family in his “Diversity Book Bag.”   What stood out in the article to me is the mother saying:

”We’re not intolerant,” said Tonia Parker. ”We love all people. That is part of our faith.”

Which positively smacks of those throwaway statements about having black/gay/asian/etc friends and then proceeding to say something highly negative.   And in the series of emailsmemorialized on MassResistance.com (a site that appears to be solely about fighting the “gay agenda” the parents write:

…We don’t believe gay parents constitute a spiritually healthy family and should not be celebrated…

But yet that family “love[s] all people.” 

Here’s my issue with the whole outrage over this curriculum, for those that say that elementary school aged children are just too young to understand adult issues such where babies come from or that sometimes a family consists of two mommies or two daddies or one mommy or one daddy or grandparents or an aunt instead of the traditional one mommy and one daddy, the fact is, these different types of families exist.  Whether you like it or not.   Their existence is a fact, like 2 + 2 = 4.   To have an issue with a picture book that depicts the reality of the world we live in — where every family is not like the Cleavers, — speaks not to the inappropriateness of the subject matter but rather one’s own personal biases.

For decades school children are taught the story of Romulus and Remus and how they were raised by a wolf.   We grew up with the Kipling tale of Mowgli and we all wanted to emulate Tarzan swinging on a vine.   I can’t remember anyone protesting the reading/viewing of any of these stories.

I suppose what I am having the most difficulty with is the idea that the words “lesbian” and “gay” are innately sexual or contains some sort of sexual reference.  Susan D. put it best when she wrote:

…After thinking about it for awhile, I realized it’s because I don’t think of “lesbian” and “gay” as being any more sexual than “man and wife” or “boyfriend and girlfriend.” So if I say that two women at our school are lesbians or two men at our church are gay, I’m simply saying that they are two people who have fallen in love with someone of the same gender.

Similarly, if I say that Sam has “two Mommies” or Darlene has “two Daddies,” it no more introduces a “sexual component” than saying that Charlie lives with his Mom and Dad (or his grandmother, or his foster mother, or whatever).

To me, the terms describe whole relationships, not just sex. As such, it’s entirely appropriate to give children words to describe the relationships that they are seeing around them on a daily basis…

For me, those words are no more sexual that teaching my kids the appropriate names of different body parts or that boys and girls are physiologically different.

One of the most helpful things about Mike McMahon’s site is the collection of comments by parents and community members on the topic, I didn’t do a count but the pros and cons appear to be pretty evenly divided even though folks will tell you that one side outweighs the other.

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144 Comments

  1. Lauren – AUSD did not include all the materials on the website when they posted the revised proposal last Friday. The info you link is all that was up last week, but yesterday additional information was posted. The 5th grade info went up yesterday.

    So tell me your opinion Lauren; homosexual / heterosexual -behavioral choice or innate as genetalia?

    I wonder what the teachers will say.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 28, 2009 @ 7:38 am

  2. Lauren – AUSD did not include all the materials on the website when they posted the revised proposal last Friday. The info you link is all that was up last week, but yesterday additional information was posted. The 5th grade info went up yesterday.

    So tell me your opinion Lauren; homosexual / heterosexual -behavioral choice or innate as genetalia?

    I wonder what the teachers will say.

    Are they using the same texts as the previous proposal? – I’m not talking about the ‘readers’.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 28, 2009 @ 7:57 am

  3. Fat people exist as well. And, although my son knows that it is wrong to tease people for being fat (or for any reason), I do not want the school district telling my son that being fat is an acceptable lifestyle choice. However, if he grows up and decides that he wants to be a fat person, I will still love him even though, according to our set of family values, he is making an unhealthy lifestyle choice.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 28, 2009 @ 8:08 am

  4. JRT:

    Try Catholic schools, or home schooling. Those two venues can discriminate all they like, I’m sure you’d be happy with either.

    Comment by dave — April 28, 2009 @ 8:28 am

  5. 4. I don’t think there is anything implicitly “unhealthy” in realizing you are gay and admitting to oneself and the world to being who you are. In fact denying it is where the ill health comes in, suicide, etc. The sickness may be in your head as some pathology of fear and intolerance.

    I can’t say that the terms gay and lesbian are sexually neutral for me and that is surely in how I came to learn their use. I suppose in using them to identify to my children same gender couples I would not need to make reference to sex, but if children have an awareness of sexuality they will arrive at those questions quickly enough.

    My point before in the anecdote about my mother’s cousin is that in the family the guy was well respected, (though he was out in Ca. and wee were back east and I did not meet him until I was 18). His living with another man was alluded to as a fact without ANY terminology or reference to sex, but my mother and aunt were not entirely comfortable dealing with it which was easy for a child to detect.

    I do know what all the stink is about but I can’t empathize much with parents who are so resistant. It’s a total non-issue for me. When our son was at Wood there was a period where they way he and friends spoke was that things were “hella gay” as a pejorative, not necessarily related to actual gay-ness. We told him to knock it off. As it turned out, one of his best male friends in high school was gay.

    Comment by M.I. — April 28, 2009 @ 8:52 am

  6. Dave … quit being so gay.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 28, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  7. Context is everything. I have heard people refer to another person they are standing with as being their “partner” and have found out later that meant business partner! I had wrongly assumed the intimate relationship version of the word. But, I didn’t treat the folks differently because of it; the were just nice folks and we were all at a party together.

    It is really too bad that a lot of people spend so much time categorizing other people so that they can EXCLUDE them from being “acceptable.”

    That seems like a lot of wasted energy spent in order to feel better, or even just “okay”, than someone else.

    Comment by E T — April 28, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  8. Why no uproar over the disingenuous marketing over this curriculum?

    It’s billed in the paper as a “SAFE Schools” program. Sure, I think it’s important to keep our kids safe, but then you read the details and you realize it’s about teaching an LBGT program.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad to bully LBGT kids. And fat kids. And black kids. And dirty kids. And Asian kids. And Jewish kids. And Muslim kids. And dwarf kids. And… ad-infinitum.

    But this is kinda like “It’s about cleaning up Alameda Point” don’t you think?

    Comment by Edmundo Delmundo — April 28, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

  9. #7 “It is really too bad that a lot of people spend so much time categorizing other people so that they can EXCLUDE them from being “acceptable.”

    I agree – It is especially evident with young children who are so much more accepting of others, probably because they don’t have ‘categories’ to pigeon-hole people. I don’t understand why we want to teach these ‘innocent’ kids the terms for adult sexual behaviors. Don’t get me wrong – I agree with the goal of making all children feel welcomed and safe in our schools – but using ‘safe schools’ as justification to teach K-5 kids specifically that LBGT is OK (Which it is, IMHO), seems to prematurely put sexually-related, pigeon-holing terms into their awareness. It is simply not needed.
    As I have expressed to the BOE – I was relieved to see the sexually related terms will not be part of the AUSD curriculum until the 4th grade. For me all 4 LGBT terms are as sexually related as the terms heterosexual and homosexual, and I would have preferred AUSD wait until the 5th grade human sexuality classes.

    It is a beautiful thing that in the office of Earhart is a letter from a family with two moms who had a daughter graduate from Earhart. The letter thanks the Earhart staff and community for providing a welcoming, nurturing environment. Caring parents and teachers are affective, and no curriculum can substitute for that.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 28, 2009 @ 5:40 pm

  10. #8 It’s an addition to the existing Safe Schools curriculum that was introduced several years ago – but it’s been clearly marketed as addressing LGBT, at the school district’s website and in public presentations. So no, I don’t think its comparable to “cleaning up Alameda Point”.

    Comment by Andy Currid — April 29, 2009 @ 8:02 am

  11. And, once again, I have to say that identity politics works against bringing people together and making the double standards go away when it seeks to single out one narrow spectrum of people for attention, when, as we have all observed, there are so MANY ways that kids and adults are dissed.

    Comment by E T — April 29, 2009 @ 9:43 am

  12. I listened to a KQED program yesterday about epilepsy, in children specifically. There were calls from parents of kids who have epilepsy who are stigmatized and shunned by kids and other parents as well for something beyond their control. The effective tool that was used to remedy this was to have a professional come speak to the classrooms of kids, sometimes including parents specifically about picking on kids with this problem.

    ET, your point sounds logical enough, but perhaps this issue falls through the cracks when the regular lessons on bullying take place and warrants being addressed specifically.

    I wonder if folks who object to this curriculum have seen it taught. I don’t know how that might take place.

    Comment by M.I. — April 29, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  13. I was distressed last night at the BOE meeting to hear Dave Kirwin and others refer to terms like “gay” and “lesbian” as if they were the FCC’s Seven Bleepable Words.

    “Gay” and “lesbian” are not sexual terms. Neither is “faggot” or “n*****.” But kids in kindergarten and first grade already know that those words can be hurled as epithets to harm someone on the schoolyard. (I volunteered at Franklin Elementary 4-5 days/week for three years, and heard these and other verbal assaults rarely, but still too often.)

    Discussing these terms—especially after they have been used to hurt other kids—is crucial to eliminating the “bullying” that DK says he opposes, and it is not “sex education” to do so. Besides, most of the kids already know what these terms mean long before the “morally concerned” parents think it’s time to educate their kids about them.

    Alameda’s LGBT students and families deserve a “safe” school environment just like everyone else. So do kids who are Christian, Hindu, or Muslim, kids with learning disabilities, kids with single parents (or none), kids of different ethnic and racial groups, etc., etc., etc. EVERYONE. Sadly, Alameda’s existing curriculum is not yet doing the job: AUSD needs stronger and more comprehensive efforts to be inclusive and safe for all students and all parents. And that’s precisely what the proposed LGBT addition to the curriculum is all about.

    If folks say they are truly accepting of LGBT people, why are they opposed to making the public schools safe for their neighbors and their neighbors’ kids?

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 29, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  14. RE: #8

    Edmundo, it has not been disingenuous at all. It’s simply extending existing efforts to provide a safer environment for LGBT families and kids. There is nothing in this proposed curriculum that promotes the (mythical) “homosexual agenda,” whatever that is..

    Gail Rossiter and other teachers in AUSD developed this (very mild, IMHO) response to parents and kids who felt unsafe at Franklin School. It’s not “gay propaganda” or “sex ed” in disguise at all.

    I have no problem whatsoever with reducing the amount of bullying and harassment on the schoolyard. And if you agree with that goal, you should support this program, too, plain and simple.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 29, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  15. We heard last night that AUSD teachers have not been taught how to deal with name calling and bullying, esp relating to “gay” comments.

    AUSD administration stated that at a staff development day in OCT ’08, a teacher survey showed that teachers wanted such training so as to have a systematic way to deal with these issues, probably so that individual attitudes are not reflected, and there is an ‘official’ AUSD policy for the way to respond’.

    Still AUSD has not trained the teachers and staff and instead allowed a “self-selected” ‘Curriculum Committee’ to form which did not allow a fair and balanced set of ideologies which would be representative of the community. My son’s 6th grade math book defines a self-selected group to be a ‘biased’ group.

    For goodness sake, teach teachers first, we don’t need a curriculum to teach good manners!

    Jon S – your style of exaggeration is exasperating – My comments did not, do not, never will, equate LGBT terms to “FCC’s Seven Bleepable Words”.

    Equally exasperating are comments that LGBT terms do not relate to sex. They are clearly sexually related terms – they are ONLY meant to differentiate sexual identity and behavior.

    That’s all those words mean!

    I have tried to be clear that the education of sexual identity issues OR behavior is not appropriate for K-4.

    We can teach kids not to use words without defining those words.

    I also think it was disingenuous for our superintendent to say “The vocabulary words are only for teachers, not students.” I asked her for clarification. I do not believe the terms are not going to be taught to students, and it is now more unclear as to what age teachers will be allowed to use their own ideologies to determine the ages the terms will be taught.

    It was concerning to hear that AUSD is also pushing for “Anytime Lessons, or ‘Teachable Moment’ lessons based on this curriculum, or that the ‘one lesson’ taught to each grade could be 4 classroom periods long, as well as any other time the teacher wants to teach it.

    It was concerning to hear that AUSD is pushing to expand this agenda even before it is taken up by the BOE.

    It was concerning to hear that AUSD’s survey of AUSD students show the students do not feel teasing, name-calling or personal attacks related to sexual identity are anywhere near the concern as are the problems related to nationality or race which are much more common in AUSD, according to the students.

    It was concerning to hear that AUSD is instead using State and national statistics to find justification to support this plan.

    It was concerning to hear that AUSD has not required, in any meaningful way, for staff to deal with name calling and bulling as they have been required to do, by BOE policy for almost a decade. For gosh sakes, train the teachers!

    Even for this curriculum AUSD is only hoping to get 1 or 2 teachers from each elementary school to get trained in this curriculum, and leave it to them to teach all the other teachers. Again, this looks to leave it up to a biased, self-selected group to control the way the curriculum is taught.

    That does not even begin to get into my specific concerns with the curriculum it self which I will post later. – Things like teaching that students get to choose their families (?), or teaching empathy for victims but not teaching kids to not be victims, and it fails to explain that self esteem and self worth should not be affected by what others think or say about you, or that you should always tell an adult when you think others are intentionally trying to bully you or hurt your feelings. These are important lessons for K-5, especially if you are concerned about children who get their feelings hurt.

    The dramatic social problems relating to a lack of LGBT sensitivity training, including self destructive behavior and suicide take place in high school according to the curriculum proponents. True enough on a national search examples can be found for preteens killing themselves –but none of us can pretend to know the full story behind the report or what really happened. The point is that the curriculum can be taught at an age appropriate level long before the confusions and struggles of sexual identity issues create destructive behaviors.

    Please don’t support bringing the confusions and struggles of sexual identity issues into K-4 classrooms with LGBT lessons. To teach the terms is to initiate sexuality related self identity issues.

    To again end on a positive note; it is a beautiful thing that in the office of Earhart is a letter from a family with two moms who had a daughter graduate from Earhart. The letter thanks the Earhart staff and community for providing a welcoming, nurturing environment. Caring parents and teachers are affective, and no curriculum can substitute for that.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 29, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  16. ““Gay” and “lesbian” are not sexual terms.”

    According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    – Gay = of or relating to homosexuals.
    – Lesbian = of or relating to homosexuality between females.

    Soooo, yes Jon … they are sexual terms. No matter what you pretend those words mean.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 29, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  17. #15
    “Equally exasperating are comments that LGBT terms do not relate to sex. They are clearly sexually related terms – they are ONLY meant to differentiate sexual identity and behavior.”

    Right — in some contexts.

    But in the context of children, it is entirely possible to use the words “lesbian” and “gay” without talking about sexual acts, just as we talk about straight families without talking about physical intimacy — around young children.

    In my household we use “gay” as shorthand for two people of the same gender who fell in love and set up a household together.

    End of story.

    As an example, the other day I left my kids with a friend who is a lesbian so I could go to the BoE meeting.

    On the way over, my son said, puzzled, “But who is the Daddy?” (he knows the family, but not really well yet). And I said, “They don’t have a Daddy. They have two Mommies.” So my daughter said, “Who’s the other Mommy?”

    After I described her physical appearance, my daughter said, “Are they the ones with the fluffy white dog?” And my son said “Can I bring my basketball?”

    We didn’t talk about sexual behavior. Not even for a minute.

    Moreover, when I think about my gay and lesbian friends, I don’t think primarily about their sex lives. I think about who they are: what they do for work, where they grew up, what their political ideas how, what they think is funny, what they’re reading, what moves them emotionally and spiritually, who their children are, how they’re weathering the recession, how they’re dealing with their aging parents, how compassionate they are to others, etc. etc. etc.

    Gay relationships are whole relationships. They are not just about sex.

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 30, 2009 @ 7:07 am

  18. That sounds great Susan … so, we’ll use your random definition of the terms “gay” and “lesbian”, not the dictionary’s which has been the generally accepted definition for generations, and we’ll let the government teach it to the kids over the objection of most of the parents and most of the voters in the enlightened State of California, and we will not tell the parents when such information will be taught because we do not want them to have an opportunity to opt out. That sounds like Liberty and Freedom to me …

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 30, 2009 @ 7:56 am

  19. No, it sounds like an honest attempt to be inclusive and caring of individuals no matter what their size, shape, color, religion, ethnicity, financial strata….

    If you don’t start somewhere, then what you have is the yawning silence of accepting double standards and uncivil, inhumane behavior.

    If we recognize our schools to be a training ground for civilized society, then we need not to be afraid to try to train our kids to be nice people!

    Comment by E T — April 30, 2009 @ 8:19 am

  20. Susan, precisely. But did you tell your children you are dropping them off with “the lesbian couple” or did you say “with Jane and Jill”? Do you say things like “Please meet my heterosexual parents” or “this is my gay brother”? Why is that important?

    Also, I find it odd you would refer to your church friends as the “gay couple/family”. Do you refer to other couples as the “black couple”, the “handicapped couple”, or the “Mexican couple”? Isn’t that what sets them apart, instead of including them? Why create a difference where there shouldn’t be one?

    The issue the school is supposedly trying to deal with is the use of the word “gay” in a derogatory manner (I’ve never heard “lesbian” or “LGBT” used that way BTW so why is that even an issue I don’t know). This can be handled the same way adults handle the use of the derogatory “retard” or “cripple”. We’ve come up with an acceptable vocabulary for these innate characteristics–“developmentally disabled” or “handicapped.” Maybe we need to come up with a word for kids who do not conform to gender roles, so “gay” can stay what it is and be used only when referring to adult sexual preferences? Incidentally, nobody from the disabled community perceives the word “lame” as an insult–is it possible we’ll get over “gay” too, and just think of it as “strange” ot “different”?

    I’ve thought a lot about this topic and I keep revising my letter to the school board. My conclusion though is that a lot more linguistic discussion, and adult education, is needed before we spring something half-baked and half-understood on the children. The insane rush to adopt such “lame” curriculum NOW gives me a throbbing headache.

    Comment by AD — April 30, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  21. I wanted to add that there seem to be two forces at work in the gay community—one to be fully accepted and to blend in (hence wanting the right to marry like everyone else), and one based on “gay pride” (I’m different and proud). I think that we should not foist this duality on children until it is resolved or settled in the adult world first. Whatever tribulations we go through, the children will be around to soak them through osmosis, and will adopt the final decision as their own. You can’t (or shouldn’t) use the children as proxies in the quest of figuring who you want to be—that’s your job, not theirs. At any rate, they don’t see a difference and donlt care until you make them.

    Comment by AD — April 30, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  22. Unfortunately, taunting and bullying is not done from a linguistic sense, is it?

    Adults are tying themselves into knots over the words and the “linguistics”, while our children are existentially lobbing verbal bombs at each other.

    None of the parents who is complaining about the curriculum is going to bother to read Erich Fromm or Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung or Wilhelm Reich or George Lakoff in order to sort through the vocabulary jungle, and nor will the BOE.

    Comment by E T — April 30, 2009 @ 10:19 am

  23. Here is an interesting OPB “other person’s blog” called “Mind Hacks” linking to a study and an article about feeling pride and feeling shame:

    http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2008/08/the_common_language_.html

    I guessing that no current studies in cognition will be referenced during this curriculum revision, either.

    Comment by E T — April 30, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  24. “taunting and bullying is not done from a linguistic sense”

    Wrong.

    Kids are very well tuned into the meaning of words. When they use “gay” to insult they know exactly what they mean—and I hope you know it’s not the actual sexual identity of the person. When you call someone a “bean pole” you are also not referring to a literal stick, and neither do you think tall sticks are by definition bad. Intent is everything. Using words intentionally to achieve your precise purpose is a very refined linguistic ability. When adults try to redefine “gay” though a curriculum they engage in a linguistic repurposing. It’s all about words; how can it not be linguistic!

    And while you are probably right that the BOE won’t read any of the above, there’s nothing wrong with suggesting that they should, if they want to do a good job! Or else, leave it to someone else who reads.

    Comment by AD — April 30, 2009 @ 10:37 am

  25. I disagree that all kids know the actual meanings of these words. Small children repeat words that they hear older kids use as taunts.

    Children model older kids. That is not the same thing as linguistics.

    Even teaching people to use their words intentionally is not specifically a linguistic.

    Children do not have a “precise” purpose in the moment, except maybe to wound. That is reaction, not forethought.

    Comment by E T — April 30, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  26. Susan – I notice in your example you did not need, nor did you choose to use the words gay, lesbian, homosexual or any other sexually related words when explaining to your kids that fluffy’s family has two moms.

    That’s perfect, no unneeded, troubling, or confusing age-inappropriate sexually-related vocabulary is needed, that’s my point too.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 30, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  27. David, if I had specifically used the word “gay” we wouldn’t have been having “troubling or confusing” conversations about sex either…because I haven’t defined “gay” as being about sex.

    It’s that simple.

    As I noted, in our household we use “gay” as shorthand for people of the same gender who fell in love and decided to set up households together. I do not feel at all compelled to discuss sexual behavior with them because it’s inappropriate for them at this age.

    I’m curious: Have you really been able to protect your children from the word “gay” all these years? Even with the debate about marriage equality, which is all over the media? And even when you take your children to Pride parades?

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 30, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  28. AD,

    1) #20: “…Why create a difference where there shouldn’t be one?”

    *Of course* Susan does not refer to her friends in the way you suggest with her children. It is the constant and consistent discrimination against non-heterosexuals that requires us to use this kind of language in discussions like this, because the LGBT community suffers harassment, taunting, and the denial of basic civil rights.

    Until the biased legal and social restrictions on some of our community are eliminated, we need to use appropriate terms (gay, lesbian, straight, etc.) to address this. Here, but not with our kids or in “normal” conversation. (Duh!)

    2) #20:“I’ve never heard “lesbian” or “LGBT” used that way BTW so why is that even an issue I don’t know.”

    Where have you been? Do you spend any time on the yard at your children’s school? (I presume that you do, BTW.)

    Are you really listening to what the kids—all of them—are saying?

    I spent three years on the yard at Franklin (as a volunteer), and I heard “lesbian” and “gay” used as taunts multiple times by kids from K-5. And I have heard those terms used to put down others continuously since I was in elementary school almost 50 years ago. (And I have been called “gay” and “faggot” myself, despite my being quite happily heterosexual all my life.)

    3) #21: “…there seem to be two forces at work in the gay community—one to be fully accepted and to blend in…and one based on “gay pride” (I’m different and proud). I think that we should not foist this duality on children until it is resolved or settled in the adult world first…they don’t see a difference and don’t care until you make them.”

    These “two forces” you perceive are actually one and the same. When oppressors (in this case, white, straight, male, and often “Christian” people in power) deny members of a minority equal rights (the American colonists, women, slaves, African-Americans who wanted freedom and the vote, Asian-Pacific Americans, the disabled, and Latinos, to name a few easily-recognized groups), part of recovering their sense of self-esteem and their civil rights is usually a “pride” movement. (Read your history.)

    This is normal and healthy, and does not entail converting the entire society into members of the oppressed minority group. (Most women in the “women’s liberation” movement did not want to force men to become women in order for them to receive equal pay for equal work, or to be able to vote, for instance. My African-American friends never asked me to change my race, either: they just wanted my support so they could live their lives on an equal footing with everyone else.)

    The “Gay Pride” movement is the same phenomenon: it is an effort to reclaim the self-respect and civil rights denied to gays and lesbians by the larger society. So I support Gay Pride in order to support my fellow human beings and help them achieve legal and social parity with the rest of us.

    Gay Pride is NOT an attempt to prove the superiority of being LGBT over being “straight,” and it not a recruiting effort to convert heterosexuals into homosexuals.

    My gay friends do not ask me to “convert” to their same-sex orientation, they simply ask that I let them own their own identities in safety and be able to love the people they love without harassment or discrimination. Isn’t that simple enough to understand and support?

    There are many “Christian” practitioners who falsely promise that they can “cure” homosexuals and lesbians of their “sin” or “illness.” As a lifelong, active Christian, I am appalled by this practice: it does not work and it causes great harm to the victims of such campaigns. How would you react to someone who offered you a “cure” for being a woman because being a woman was “unacceptable” or “sinful?”

    Until such social and “religious” practices, as well as the legal discriminations now in place, have been eliminated, we need to teach our children—all of them—how to respect each other. We need curricula like this LGBT program, weakened and watered down as it may be, to help show them how to not use words as weapons, just as we teach kids in kindergarten to not discriminate against kids based on their skin color, ethnicity, disabilities, gender, economic background, etc., and to “not use your body to solve a problem…do not hit each other.”

    There is no “threat” to anyone from the “LGBT agenda.” It is the same agenda we all share it is going to work, raising children, walking the dog, joining the PTA, washing the dishes, paying the mortgage, taking out the trash, voting in elections, etc.

    The only thing my gay, lesbian, and transgender brothers and sisters do not have for these tasks that I do is equal civil and legal rights and safety in their own skin because of whom they love.

    Until this painful harassment and discrimination against a few is ended, we need a “special LGBT curriculum” in our public schools, for ALL of us: straights, women, minorities, children (all of them), parents, non-parents, etc.

    If (when?) the need disappears I will be the first one to call for an end to it, but the need now is obvious, demonstrable, historic, and right here in Alameda.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 30, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  29. JRT and DK,

    You both claim that “ ‘Gay and ‘lesbian’…*are* sexual terms…No matter what (I) pretend those words mean.” (#15, #16)

    Let’s grant your point for a moment.

    Does that mean that “male,” “female,” “straight,” and “heterosexual” are sexual terms, too? These words have sexual attributes and connotations, after all—just like the words “lesbian” and “homosexual.” (Far be it from me to argue with the MW Collegiate.)

    What about “mammal”? (Mammals have sex, don’t they?) Or “pollen”? (Plants reproduce using sexual differentiation.) Do we eliminate “pistil” and “stamen” from the public school curriculum unless and until they are covered in s-e-x education?

    If these words are also “sexual terms” then let’s keep ALL of those “dirty” words out of our kid’s classrooms and usage until they get to the 4th-5th grade and take “s-e-x education.”

    (DK, you ARE suggesting that we make “sexual terms” “taboo,” just like the FCC tells us that seven particularly graphic words are too nasty for the public airwaves.)

    Let’s see just how much we can cripple our kids’ thinking and their vocabulary by censoring “sexual terms” from our K-3 classrooms. (And let’s take “…male and female He created them” from the Book of Genesis in Sunday school, too, just to be thorough.)

    Does everything gender-related or orientation-related ALWAYS have to be about s-e-x?

    I think not.

    Many of us use the gender-identification words (gay, straight, lesbian, etc.) in a broad and more holistic sense, without thinking of s-e-x every time we use them.

    Our individual gender and sexual orientation are gifts and a real part of who we are from birth. That does not mean that our gender orientation or sex are all that we are, nor should we hide those parts of ourselves. (We cannot successfully hide our individual humanity and identity from others and remain healthy, in any case.) But acknowledging our gender or our orientation does not mean we think only about s-e-x 24/7, either. (Do you, DK?)

    I am a “straight” or “heterosexual” man (male), and I am in a “different-sex marriage.” (That’s one in which Linda and I never had to ask for or wait for the legal right to marry as husband and wife, and that was automatically legal in all 50 states on September 10, 1988). But I most definitely DO NOT think about s-e-x every time I think about being married, or straight, or heterosexual.

    Being a heterosexual may a large part of who I am, but being straight does NOT mean I am just my pe**s and my go**ds, any more than I am just a Democrat, just a bicyclist, or just an Episcopalian.

    It is perfectly rational, normal, and healthy to discuss gender and orientation appropriately with kids–before they take s-e-x education–when discussing families of all types, including the “two mommy,” “two daddy,” “single-parent,” and “different-sex couple” families that we and our kids encounter. (That’s what Susan Davis was saying here, and I am certain that Dave Kirwin has had discussions like this with his kids prior to their taking s-e-x education in schools, too.)

    Kids ask questions like these, and they lead to conversations about people, families, and relationships, not discussions of bedroom behavior or techniques. These are appropriate and good discussions to have, both at home and in the classroom, and they help our kids to grow up healthier, not worse off.

    Let’s keep s-e-x out of the K-3 classroom, but NOT terms that refer to gender and sexual orientation that help kids understand who they are and how they relate to their peers and their peers’ parents.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 30, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

  30. “When oppressors (in this case, white, straight, male, and often “Christian” people in power) deny members of a minority equal rights”…

    Get real Jon. We are talking about K-4 elementary school and LGBT issues. We don’t teach K-4 heterosexual terms, those kids aren’t being denied LGBT rights, and posters here agree kids don’t even understand the meaning of LGBT terms at that age.

    My main point has been that to teach these sexually-related terms at an earlier-than-age-appropriate point in their lives is opening the door for more self conscious doubts and confusion than if LGBT terms are taught at an appropriate age for those ages.

    …………………………

    “Equally exasperating are comments that LGBT terms do not relate to sex. They are clearly sexually related terms – they are ONLY meant to differentiate sexual identity and behavior.”
    Susan:
    Right — in some contexts.

    But in the context of children, it is entirely possible to use the words “lesbian” and “gay” without talking about sexual acts, just as we talk about straight families without talking about physical intimacy — around young children.

    In my household we use “gay” as shorthand for two people of the same gender who fell in love and set up a household together.
    “But in the context of children, it is entirely possible to use the words “lesbian” and “gay” without talking about sexual acts, just as we talk about straight families without talking about physical intimacy — around young children.”

    Susan you have the right to teach your children however you choose in your household. In our household we don’t use or need the terms gay, or lesbian to define our gay and lesbian friends – those terms just are not needed to discuss them. Like wise we don’t use the term heterosexual, or straight when we are talking about or referring to our friends. We don’t need to use terms relating to our friends sexual choices because that aspect of their life is not an issue for us. Frankly I can’t imagine the conversations you must have with your kids where you feel you need to use “gay” and “lesbian”.

    I remember about 10 years ago one of the moms in our new mom’s group was at our house and her daughter who was about 2 at the time suggested taking a bath with my son. Totally innocent, totally cool, we are all friends….Imagine our surprise when little xxx xx suggested my son could put his penis in her virgina. Okay we had to hide our laughter, but the reality was that we felt the little girl had been taught age-inappropriate language. Perhaps well meaning parents who teach vocabulary too early are partially responsible for these words being brought and misused on our playgrounds.

    At K-3 ,4 kids’s still do not need LGBT terms to be clear that there are all kinds of families, or that no kids should be taunted, teased, or tormented for any reason. Of course without supervision and constant reinforcement it will still happen – because they are kids. There are many terms that should not be used by little kids in school and I would include hetero, gay, penis, etc. These are not bad words, just inappropriate for that age in school. At home it is not an AUSD issue. We can teach about loving families of all types without LGBT or hetero sexually related terms.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 30, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

  31. Jon Really?

    Of course male/female are sexually related words. More exactly they are gender-related, and yes kids think about those words as compared to themselves, and even then about 1 in 10,000 have struggling issues with just gender identity.

    Jon – since you want to relate so many of your comments to me, please be respectful of what I am saying and stop posting such really stupid garbage unrelated to what I say. Things like:
    “(DK, you ARE suggesting that we make “sexual terms” “taboo,” just like the FCC tells us that seven particularly graphic words are too nasty for the public airwaves.) ”

    I responded to your previous nonsense on this theme yesterday. Such comments by you only point out your penchant for weak and meaningless personal attacks and misrepresentation of facts. I know you are capable of more thoughtful and considerate responses.

    Jon you also just posted; “It is perfectly rational, normal, and healthy to discuss gender and orientation appropriately with kids–before they take s-e-x education–when discussing families of all types, including the “two mommy,” “two daddy,” “single-parent,” and “different-sex couple” families that we and our kids encounter.” And “Let’s keep s-e-x out of the K-3 classroom, but NOT terms that refer to gender and sexual orientation that help kids understand who they are and how they relate to their peers and their peers’ parents.”

    This is your opinion Jon – I don’t agree with you. I don’t feel it is appropriate to try to teach kids “who they are” in terms of sexual orientation in elementary school. That’s the whole main point. Likewise it is only your opinion as to what is appropriate at each age level. And guess what Jon – it is not always even age or grade related as to when such education is appropriate.

    As for the rest of my issues I posted regarding this agenda as described on the AUSD website have not been responded to; do you have any opinions on the other thoughts I posted yesterday?

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 30, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  32. #30 “Frankly I can’t imagine the conversations you must have with your kids where you feel you need to use “gay” and “lesbian”.”

    Clearly.

    So here are some examples:

    Like, um, last fall? There was this kinda big political thingy? About whether or not g__ people should still be allowed to be married in California?

    I confess that in conversations about that proposition (and I used “proposition” purely in its political sense, honest) I did use the word “gay marriage.”

    Once or twice.

    We didn’t talk about sex. Or genitalia. Not even artificial insemination. Or adoption! But I did, yes, use the word “g__.”

    But if you think that’s bad, wait ’til you hear this one:

    Last October? When CT legalized g__ marriage? A friend of mine from my itty bitty CT hometown sent me an email announcing that his big sister and her partner were the FIRST g__ couple to get married there.

    I read the email and – you may need to understand small town New England to understand my reaction — I yelled, “Oh my god!” And my kids – being kids – ran in and said, “what is it? What is it?” And I said — totally inappropriately, I’m sure — “Someone I know was one of the first gay people to get married in CT!”

    My kids learned a little something about being happy for one’s friends that day. They learned nothing about sex.

    Other than that, there have been the occasional responses to questions like, “what does g__ mean?” in which I did use “g__” in my definition.

    It’s bad, I know, but maybe not quite as perverse as what you’re imagining?

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 30, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

  33. Kirwin,

    Should teachers be prohibited to wear wedding rings to class, or have pictures of their spouses on their desks, or mention their spouses in passing? The standards you demand seem to call for these.

    Comment by dave — May 1, 2009 @ 5:25 am

  34. The tone does seem to get slightly more hysterical as we move this conversation along.

    Admittedly, not everyone will be happy with what the BOE and the AUSD come up with. I think the intent is from a good place: trying to help train children to be kind.

    It is good to try a school based program, but the learning curve is on the people who develop and run the program, not just on the parents, kids and teachers! If the district plans on launching this thing and then never evaluating it afterward to see what needs fixing, then that is a big problem. That would be like saying, okay now that we’ve handled that, let’s move on… Nothing works that way. The developers of the program (and all of US) need to realize up front that there will be mistakes made and further revision necessary.

    Do I think such a program can train children not to use words to taunt and bully? Sadly, sadly, no.

    Why do I say this? Because what we see playing out here in dialog is human nature. There are people and children who, despite having been taught the difference between right and wrong, being nice and being mean will still either opt consciously to do so, or even merely on impulse.

    This is not about wordplay, it is not about politeness, and it is not about linguistics. It is about tribal supremacy and the reptilian part of the human brain. Intimidation and fear are are the tools of the personality that wants to be in charge. The playground has always been the place where kids learn about pecking order. Clemens wrote about it in “Mark Twain”!

    But there is also germane discussion in Jon-Roar Bjorkvold’s “The Muse Within; creativity and communication, song and play from childhood through maturity”. Erich Fromm addresses this from a far deeper human psychology perspective in all of his books, culminating in “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.”

    Just because kids will know more about why they shouldn’t act in a certain way doesn’t mean they will refrain from doing so. In fact, just the opposite can occur.

    It is just like any challenge an adult gives to children. The question child will question internally, “how can I work around this?” or even “how can I get away with something I know I am not supposed to do?”

    Comment by E T — May 1, 2009 @ 7:42 am

  35. Thank you for those words of wisdom (and the cool book recommendations!), ET.

    I apologize for getting a bit sarcastic in #32. I confess I was bothered by DK’s suggestion that I was having untoward conversations with my children (I’m not) or that it’s parents like me who are raising the bullies. That felt like a low blow.

    In re whether or not anti-bullying programs work, ET, you remind me of an important point. The current research on bullying prevention shows that to be most effective the programs need to be widespread and consistent (e.g., from the district down to the principals, teachers, staff, and parents). But they need to be combined with one-on-one (or small group) counseling for the worst offenders, who are often dealing with such huge stressors at home that the “be kind to others” message can’t be heard.

    That’s a tall order in a time when district budgets are tight. But it’s something we can all hope for in our school communities.

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 1, 2009 @ 9:33 am

  36. Susan,

    I understand your sarcasm and I admire your commitment to your beliefs.

    I ask that you try to understand we all do not have the same beliefs, and relating to some of these beliefs, right and wrong are relative.

    While I do support the equal rights of our LGBT community, I clearly do not believe it is rational, normal, or healthy to discuss gender and sexual orientation with kids in K-5 at classroom level.

    At home parents can do what they feel is appropriate, and those actions (or lack of them) may have repercussions at our public schools. It is these repercussions that AUSD BOE must decide how to deal with, and many teachers feel inadequately prepared and are afraid to risk personal and professional liabilities to intervene. This is where I feel the BOE must target a solution.

    We will simply have to agree to disagree on whether it is proper or justifiable to begin a new agenda when clearly staff has not been provided the needed tools to meet existing policy.

    You may decide at home to define lesbian or gay as loving committed relationships. True that many lesbian and gay relationships are loving and committed, but those adverbs do not relate to the definitions of the words describing sexual orientation such as heterosexual, homosexual, or the proposed LGBT terms in the curriculum.

    To date, AUSD has not yet posted the definitions they will prescribe for the curriculum proposal.

    Did you by chance read the comments I made on the other lesson sections of the proposal, or did you , as many seem to, get stuck on this single stumbling block?

    I only ask because I value your opinion, despite our differing beliefs. My intent has not been to offend.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 1, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  37. Are we trying to control belief or behavior? Is it necessary to change belief in order to change behavior? For example, let us say that I am a teacher and I believe that all Jews are going to hell. As long as I treat Jewish students fairly and exhibit no outward manifestations of prejudice at work, shouldn’t I be able to hold that belief and still be a teacher?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 1, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

  38. For those who would like to rationally discuss parts of lessons in this proposed curriculum, here are some of my other concerns:
    (Unrelated to prematurely suggesting orientations as this committee lacking fair representation of the AUSD community proposes, – points which we have to just agree to disagree upon)

    I also have several other specific questions on the proposal.

    Kindergarten – “Becoming a welcoming classroom” – When will this lesson be taught – as a schedule, or when a new student enters the room as the lesson itself suggests?

    Grade 1 – I have only the concern relating to the line “Every person gets to decide who their family is.” – This irrational or at least counter-intuitive to me. I believe we can decide who our friends are, but that we don’t get to choose our family.

    Grade 2 – I know others may object to the reading book in which the story revolves around two male penguins raising a chick whose egg was placed in their nest by a researcher. Personally, my only concern is the discussion questions which ask “Did any of the animals in families?” or “Why do you think Roy and Silo built a next?” – I am sure the district will clean up some of the uncertainties as to what the incomplete sentices mean. This 2nd question leads me to have to ask how this question could be used by certain teachers who perhaps have their own LGBT agenda, and is AUSD’s point of view that LGBT is personal choice, or heredity? I also read on the other thread that this story fails to disclose the end of the real-life story of these penguins – One of the 2 male parent penguins left his ‘mate’ and found a female with which he had a family.

    Grade 3 – A point of clarification – this is suggested in the curriculum to be four 30 minute “segments”, not one, as implied by the statement “there would be only one LGBT curriculum lesson at each grade level.” As well as a film, there are several different activities and discussions proposed for Grade 3. Would the district say there is only 1 lesson in mathematical probability in the 6th grade – it just takes several weeks of classes?
    The grey box outline of these lessons outlines several goals including “developing sensitivity to gay and lesbian family structures.” – Is there a goal supporting such a “sensitivity”? Will it be done without the vocabulary of “lesbian” and “gay”? How is this covered in the film? According to this curriculum as posted on the AUSD website, “gay” and “lesbian” are 4th grade words, not 3rd grade words.
    In the first lesson, before the film, “They will learn that every family is unique, but viable and special.” Sadly it is not true that every family is viable, and this “lesson” could be very hurtful to kids whose families are splitting up.
    My wife’s parents divorced when she was 7 years old and I can’t imagine how more ‘screwed-up’ she may have felt if at the same time in school she was being taught that “All families are viable”.
    One of the lessons after the film States “Children may want to refer to words used in the film” – What ARE these words? And while discussing the words of this curriculum, why are the LGBT terms not defined as they will be taught in the classrooms, while the curriculum does define words such as “empathy”? Tuesday night the District promised to post the prescribed definitions – Can anybody find them?

    Grade 4 – Under Activity #3;
    There are 5 discussion prompts to encourage students to explore the feelings they or others felt when called names; I would like to suggest some other discussion prompts surely belong there, such as:
    “Should your self-esteem be based on what others call you?”, or, “Do you think you should always care about what others think or say about you?”
    It seems to me that these lessons should also begin to reflect the basics of self reliance in the face of name-calling, especially as those putting together this agenda repeatedly use the concern of teenagers acting with self-destructive behaviors or suicide because of sexually oriented name calling. We know we can never eliminate all hurt and depressed feelings, but we can teach to limit the power of others on the feelings of individuals. We can explain the human mind is capable of a wide range of feelings, and therefore the it is not a bad sign when the brain seeks it’s expansions, but that all feelings are temporary and can be understood as a useful tool or experience when empathetically working with others. (In this light it can be postulated that suicide can be explained as a permanent solution to a temporary problem but this would be more appropriate for higher grade ages.)
    Activities #1 & 2 seem pointlessly expectant of negative feelings toward teens and LGBT people. Like the other lesson encouraging students to shout out nasty put-downs this one asks student to look for negative stereotypes. Such lessons are potentially more damaging than beneficial.

    And finally, a reminder that we are very fortunate to live here in the Alameda community.
    It is a beautiful thing that in the office of Earhart is a letter from a family with two moms who had a daughter graduate from Earhart. The letter thanks the Earhart staff and community for providing a welcoming, nurturing environment. It is not just the gay community which owes deep respect and gratitude to Principal Joy Dean. When she was informed of a student being taunted and teased, called names like faggot and nigger, she personally interviewed a wide range of students soliciting additional information, facts, hearsay, and the names of those responsible. When she was clear on the situation the parents of the kids were called in, and the kids and their behavior was directly dealt with. No need to agendize a new curriculum or put a committee together. Caring parents and teachers are affective, and no curriculum can substitute for that. The District just needs to provide staff with the tools they requested – a clearly written standard protocol on how to intervene, what steps to take, what they can say or do, so staff can properly act without creating a personal liability for themselves. And BOE could go a step further and make their staff actions or lack of actions related to bullying issues a part of their performance reviews.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 1, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

  39. David Kirwin,

    You and others repeatedly state that you do not want “sexually related words” (#31) taught or discussed in the K-3 classroom or on the yard—even, apparently, when those words are asked about, used, and misused by kids that young, or at other appropriate times in a learning situation.

    You include words like “gay,” “straight,” “lesbian,” “homosexual,” heterosexual,” “male,” and “female” in your list of “taboo” vocabulary words that should not be used or discussed. And I am deeply disturbed by the implications of extending such a ban to its logical conclusion.

    Does your intended vocabulary ban (a new form of teacher censorship, just like the FCC’s “bleepable words,” as I see it) apply even if the kids themselves ask about these words? Should a teacher be forbidden from responding to those specific words for three years, in your view? What if a “teachable moment” arises (as it did for me as a volunteer) when someone uses one of those terms in a derogatory way against another child? Do you really want to further tie the hands of our talented teachers in moments like those? I certainly do not.

    If those words are off-limits for all K-3 teachers and students and more kids are bullied and taunted for years as a result, I perceive that your claim to oppose bullying anywhere and everywhere (which I believe is wholly sincere, BTW) is not consistent with your suggested policy recommendations.

    If we truly oppose verbal abuse and physical violence perpetrated against other human beings because of their gender, skin color, creed, orientation, or any other reason, and then we do not act consistently to prevent such violence and abuse through every necessary and practicable means, then we have failed to live out our own stated values. We must not only “talk the talk” but also “walk the walk” in order to pass the test of being morally consistent as our sister’s and our brother’s keepers.

    I have too much trouble with this ethical and moral issue to go too far beyond it. If you can show me how you your view has moral consistency in this areas, I might be able to deal with the details you are asking me to examine. But so far, I do not see it.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 1, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

  40. We are all Americans and we are all living in the same house.

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=31181378

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 1, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

  41. Dave,

    You just posted this in #38:

    “Grade 1 – I have only the concern relating to the line ‘Every person gets to decide who their family is.’ – This irrational or at least counter-intuitive to me. I believe we can decide who our friends are, but that we don’t get to choose our family.”

    You are entirely correct that we do not pick our birth families. But Pastor Caldwell’s commentary in the 5/1 AJ claims that some of his flock, because of their religious beliefs, can rightfully disregard or disdain some families that do not match their particular ideal standard (one mommy and one daddy, married to each other and living happily ever after under one roof). There is a very real problem when public policies in our schools are based on the selective moral judgment of others, as in the “opt-out” that both of you espouse.

    What happens to all of the kids whose own families at home do not match up to that mythical ideal? Do we tell them–or permit our children to tell them–that they are ‘defective,” or that they can “overcome that handicap”? I do not think discrimination and exclusion like that make for sound social, legal, or educational policy.

    “Every person gets to decide who their family is” gives each student the ability to accept her or his own family–whatever it looks like—as equal to her/his peers’ families. (I may not like the way it is written, but I get what it stands for.) A student with only one parent at home, or one without living parents who only has a grandma or an uncle raising her, can visualize herself as “okay” under that all-inclusive definition.

    Pastor Caldwell claims that this inclusive and student-reinforcing phrase is a “purely values driven definition.” It is not. It just reflects the variety of family types that exist here and now in Alameda. “Every person gets to decide who their family is,” offers each student self-respect, dignity, and comfort. It also helps defend every student against bullying and harassment by others who see her or him as “different.”

    The schools have a responsibility to teach the truth—about math, spelling, geography, and every topic covered in the classroom. Teachers also need to tell the truth to their students–even those in grades K-3–about the many kinds of families that DO exist, side by side, on our little island. Not every family–not even every family at Central Baptist Church, I am certain—has 2.1 children, one daddy, and one mommy married permanently to the daddy. (No matter how many Bible verses one cites or what moral codes one believes in, demographics are real, and Alameda is not 100% like the Cleavers of TV myth.)

    Recognizing and honoring every family and every student in Alameda is a cornerstone of any policy designed to reduce bullying, harassment, and discrimination in our public schools. Offering exceptions (the chance to opt out) to the teaching of fundamental human rights makes no sense. Neither does it help to “wait until they are old enough.”

    The harassment and abuse that can culminate in a teen’s suicide start early in grade school. It is far easier to stop that abuse in kindergarten than in middle school or high school, too. By the time puberty (or sex education) hits, it is already too late.

    The LGBT portion of the AUSD’s anti-bullying policy has nothing to do with the disruption or alteration of young children’s sexual orientation and everything to do with ensuring every child a safe school experience, free from abuse and harassment.

    To guarantee that safety for every child, every child also needs to learn what respect, inclusion, and tolerance really mean. Every family, whatever its size, shape, colors, age, or gender-content(s) needs the same respect and dignity. From all of us.

    Either we are opposed to bullying and violence against our children or we are not.
    And if we are opposed to children being verbally and physically abused, then every child should be treated, taught, and protected equally. No exclusions and no exceptions make sense when offering dignity, safety, comfort, and the chance to understand what real tolerance is.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 1, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  42. Jon – I can respond with personal attacks too, but mine I will base on what you state as compared to what the law requires AUSD to do. Furthermore this is the last time I will respond to you as the only thing you are consistent about is misquoting, assigning statements regardless of facts, and misrepresenting the goals of the program. I wonder if this is representative of all your technical writing .Your repetition for the 3rd time of false and misleading statements you attributed to me is a pure strikeout for your credibility. That and you refusal to address any of the other issues I brought up further displays your single track thinking and your inability for creative thinking and problem solving.

    Your megalomaniacal idea that you are the sole source of what is right and wrong for all the District’s children, what they should learn and when they should learn it as it relates to their sexual orientation; that you perceive yourself as the King Solomon of the Franklin play yard, despite never having been a parent or taking a child development or child psychology course goes beyond pale.

    If if if if – if you really care about the really hurtful name calling and bullying, why were you at Franklin? If the serious affects take place at the high school level why weren’t you there?

    Since the Healthy Kids Surveys show that taunts and bullying relating to race and nationality affect more than 2x the # of students as those related to sexual orientation, why aren’t you on-board with protecting all students as the State law requires? You not only limit the scope of whom the State requires us to protect, you want to enforce your belief structure on all public school families in Alameda. Where is you’re your action as compared to your statements. It appears you do not “walk your talk”.

    You claim to be a research writer but remain blind to any train of thought other than your own. What do you think you will learn that way?

    Let me point you to several State Ed links so you can see what is required, and what the State is suggesting for policy statements. The state is aware that most districts, like AUSD, formulated anti harassment policies long ago, but never had significant positive results, often negative results, because policy is meaningless without enforcement. The new state law requires we step-up the policy with enforcement and consequences.

    You will notice that NO additional curriculum is required FOR ANY of the characteristics to be more protected by the State laws requesting Public Schools to toughen its stance against ALL harassment and bullying. The whole proposed curriculum you support is ONLY related to LGBT. Do other kids not matter to you, do they matter, but just ‘not so much’? – You heard the BOE specifically ask Staff “Are there any lesson cards for the other protected status’s in the CSC?” The answer was no – Caring School Curriculum only addresses the LGBT issues.

    Not only is it limited in scope, but it was assembled by a self-selected group and an extremely biased advocacy group. Of course in “Spangler World” this is fair, just and a proper way to rally support of the community-at-large and confirms the District’s stance (and yours) for compromise and mediation, and the intent to create a ‘forced education format’, regardless of the beliefs of others. Let me repeat that – you support a ‘forced education format’, regardless of the beliefs of others; Isn’t that itself a form of grand scale ‘bullying’?

    For further edification I will post this lengthy series of the documents related to concerning this issue and the ones AUSD must abide by… for those interested in facts.

    Alameda Unified – Healthy Kids Survey & School Climate Survey http://www.wested.org/cs/chks/query/q/1298?district=alameda

    California State Department of Ed info re Safe Schools, including policies (Conflict Management; Code of Conduct) http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/ and

    Bullying and Hate-Motivated Behavior Prevention http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/bullyprev.asp ;

    Community Responsibility –
    A Community Responsibility http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/prevbully.asp

    A Community Responsibility –
    Bullying is such a long-established behavior in our society and schools that it has often been ignored as “a normal part of growing up.” However, research has shown that there are severe long-term consequences for both victims and the bullies. Further, severe reactions to bullying have been cited as one of the causes of the extremely violent incidents on school campuses that have received so much media attention in recent years.
    Fortunately, well-documented research has been done which provides techniques for preventing bullying, responding to incidents of bullying, and dealing with its long term consequences. The key elements of a bullying prevention program are:

    -Raising awareness of bullying through actions such as surveys of prevalence and role-playing events at assemblies.
    -Formation of a bullying prevention committee which represents the entire school community and which is responsible for choosing and implementing a prevention program.
    (Yes it says “entire school community”, not a self-selected group employing an extremely biased advocacy group…)

    -Defining bullying and making it clear to all staff and students that it is unacceptable.
    -Adapt and implement bullying prevention policies.
    -Training all members of the school community in the appropriate responses to observed incidents of bullying.
    (See the State assumes schools have failed to do this over the last 10 years, but some would rather form a new committee, a new plan, rather than doing the actual work required…)

    -Providing counseling for persistent bullies, victims, and their parents.
    -Regular review of effectiveness of the anti-bullying program.

    There are a number of resources available which contain detailed information about comprehensive bullying prevention programs. These research-based programs describe the elements above, and also contain:

    -Broadly conceived definitions of bullying, including behaviors such as social ostracism in addition to the traditionally-considered physical dominance behaviors

    -Bullying prevalence questionnaires

    -Appropriate interventions for bullying situations, and for chronic bullies and victims

    (And Finally, if you made it this far you’re ahead of the curve of those who would rather ‘parrot’ than learn…)

    The two youth bills the governor recently signed include the Student Civil Rights Act and the Safe Place to Learn Act. The Student Civil Rights Act (SB 777), authored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, protects students from harassment and bullying in public schools by making sure teachers and school administrators fully understand their responsibilities to protect youth. The Safe Place to Learn Act (AB 394), authored by Assembly member Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, further strengthens youth protections by ensuring that the state’s nondiscrimination policies are rigorously enforced. http://www.eqca.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=9oINKWMCF&b=40337&ct=4514709
    http://www.eqca.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=9oINKWMCF&b=2292609&ct=3730517 AB 394 – this was enacted Jan 08.
    Equality California-Sponsored Legislation

    Equality California-Sponsored Legislation
    AB 394 – Safe Place to Learn Act

    The Safe Place to Learn Act provides clarification and guidance to school districts and the California Department of Education regarding what steps should be taken to ensure compliance with the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, AB 537 (Kuehl). This necessary clarification will help to ensure that current school safety standards regarding harassment and discrimination are fully and properly implemented.
    Status: Passed Assembly on June 6 by a 47-31 vote. Passed Senate on September 11 by a 24-12 bipartisan vote. Signed by Governor Schwarzenegger; will become law on January 1, 2008.
    Lead Author: Assemblymember Lloyd Levine
    Sponsors: Equality California and Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality

    (Not even an LGBT advocacy group?)

    http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/sv/

    AB 537 Discrimination. (aka California Safety & Violence Prevention Act)
    ….
    The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
    SECTION 1. This bill shall be known, and may be cited, as the
    California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000.
    SEC. 2. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the
    following:

    (1) Under the California Constitution, all students of public
    schools have the inalienable right to attend campuses that are safe,
    secure, and peaceful. Violence is the number one cause of death for
    young people in California and has become a public health problem
    of epidemic proportion. One of the Legislature’s highest priorities
    must be to prevent our children from the plague of violence.

    (2) The fastest growing, violent crime in California is hate crime,
    and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that all students attending
    public school in California are protected from potentially violent
    discrimination. Educators see how violence affects youth every day;
    they know first hand that youth cannot learn if they are concerned
    about their safety. This legislation is designed to protect the
    institution of learning as well as our students.

    (3) Not only do we need to address the issue of school violence but
    also we must strive to reverse the increase in teen suicide. The
    number of teens who attempt suicide, as well as the number who
    actually kill themselves, has risen substantially in recent years. Teen
    suicides in the United States have doubled in number since 1960 and
    every year over a quarter of a million adolescents in the United States
    attempt suicide. Sadly, approximately 4,000 of these attempts every
    year are completed. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for
    youths 15 through 24 years of age. To combat this problem we must
    seriously examine these grim statistics and take immediate action to
    ensure all students are offered equal protection from discrimination
    under California law.

    SEC. 3. Section 200 of the Education Code is amended to read:
    200. It is the policy of the State of California to afford all persons
    in public schools, regardless of their sex, ethnic group identification,
    race, national origin, religion, mental or physical disability, or
    regardless of any basis that is contained in the prohibition of hate
    crimes set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 422.6 of the Penal Code,
    equal rights and opportunities in the educational institutions of the
    state. The purpose of this chapter is to prohibit acts which are
    contrary to that policy and to provide remedies therefor.

    SEC. 4. Section 220 of the Education Code is amended to read:
    220. No person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis
    of sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion,
    color, mental or physical disability, or any basis that is contained in
    the prohibition of hate crimes set forth in subdivision (a) of Section
    422.6 of the Penal Code in any program or activity conducted by an
    educational institution that receives, or benefits from, state financial
    assistance or enrolls pupils who receive state student financial aid.

    SEC. 5. Section 221 of the Education Code is renumbered to read:
    220.5. This article shall not apply to an educational institution
    which is controlled by a religious organization if the application
    would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.

    SEC. 6. Section 241 is added to the Education Code, to read:
    241. Nothing in the California Student Safety and Violence
    Prevention Act of 2000 requires the inclusion of any curriculum,
    textbook, presentation, or other material in any program or activity
    conducted by an educational institution or postsecondary
    educational institution; the California Student Safety and Violence
    Prevention Act of 2000 shall not be deemed to be violated by the
    omission of any curriculum, textbook, presentation, or other material
    in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution
    or postsecondary educational institution.

    (Maybe you want to re-read SEC 6)

    Congratulations if you read this far,
    I thank you for the time you invested to understand this issues and the laws governing the actions AUSD needs to take. It is clear to me that the acceptance of the proposed curriculum does not meet the required actions, and is not a required condition – It only serves to divide the district.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 1, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  43. “Recognizing and HONORING every family and every student in Alameda is a cornerstone of any policy designed to reduce bullying, harassment, and discrimination in our public schools.”

    Therein lies the problem … with that forced HONORING. Is this supposed to be about tolerance or government mandated FORCED HONORING of a lifestyle most find repulsive???

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 1, 2009 @ 10:21 pm

  44. Honoring does not mean anything is “forced”. It simply means that you recognise that people have the right to exist and do not act in ways that make them marginalized or discomforted in our community. My mother calls this good manners.

    Too often children in school are made the brunt of taunts and slander because of the choices of their parents, which is unfair and unkind. If schools can help kids to understand that each human person has the right to be on this earth and to be left in peace, I would hope that they do so. I would also hope that parents, even if disapproving of particular behaviors of the people in the child’s home life, would help their children to practice love and tolerance toward each other.

    The same goes when a child is physically or mentally challenged, not “pretty”, overweight, or doesn’t wear the “right” clothing. They should be accepted as human beings and made to feel as welcome and complete as those who have not been dealt a less than winning hand. “Judge not, lest ye be also judged.” Big message, often missed by those who see themselves as “the good people.”

    Comment by Kate Quick — May 2, 2009 @ 7:29 am

  45. 43. At issue is how an individual perceives the meaning of “most” in the context where it is employed to make a point. Many individuals perceive “most” as meaning “the way I think about the subject.”

    This is why a person would feel comfortable in making an assertion using “most”.

    That is an irrational way to make an assertion.

    #35. There is currently small group work and individual work done at the school level to help kids deal with impulsive behavior that may result in name calling and fighting. Yes, even with the budgetary problems, the schools are doing their best to cover the bases!

    #24. A specific example from the school yard yesterday. A boy had taken a marker and written the word “bitch” on an available dry erase board. A group of boys were all huddled around and laughing about it. An adult spotted this activity and wondered what it was all about, so investigated. Being called on this activity, the child in question was pulled aside and asked directly “do you know what that word means?” The answer was “no.”

    There is a lot of “urban legend” type of information and speculation passed around on school yards (among children), as well as the internet (among adults). It has always been this way. This is actually partly how some very, very old schoolyard rhymes originated.

    At best, this results in literature–everything from the Bible to the ripping sea yarn. At worst, this results in hurtful or otherwise damaging propaganda.

    But it is not a linguistic problem.

    Comment by E T — May 2, 2009 @ 8:12 am

  46. #45 — Yes, when I wrote that we need small groups and individual counseling I was aware that those currently exist at our schools. And I’m very appreciative of that! They are an essential part of any district-wide, anti-bullying program.

    And in regards to the dry erase board episode you narrate — I’m going to send this request out into the ether (and to the Board of Ed) too: Can the noon supervisors get trained in this curriculum, too? We spend huge amounts of time with the kids and it would be good to be able to respond in the same way that staff/teachers do.

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 2, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  47. #42
    Geez, DK, you seem to have an awfully thin skin for someone who engages so enthusiastically in this flaming-on-blogs business.

    PS: I usually skip all your entries; too long and repetitive and I do have a life.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 2, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  48. …And for someone professing such high-minded tolerance your husband seems awfully intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others. He also deserves his real loss of credibility for deliberately, persistently, and wrongfully assigning statements to others. I am tired of him doing it to me every time he disagrees with my opinions. That he is too lazy to research the facts to support his opinion does not provide him the right to pompously determine which religions or sets of personal beliefs have value and which should be dismissed. He is also clearly ignorant of the State requirements AUSD is faced with for dealing with bullying and name calling. He has not examined the facts about who is most often harmed by these practices in our schools. He has not responded to what the AUSD teacher surveys show – that teachers want training to help them know how to properly respond to these negative behaviors.

    What if everyday I pointed out that Jon is supportive of pedophilia as an open and honest expression of his love for children? While daily repetitions of outlandish statements don’t make them true, such statements do obviously distract from the real issues at hand.

    As a worker in the Berkeley school district I understand the concerns of teachers who are to be told to deal with these perceived harassment issues, or who want to, or feel it is their duty to intervene. On playgrounds and in elementary school halls it is easy to intervene; it is non-threatening, and kids respect adults, or at least respect that the adults are much bigger. Middle, and especially high school yards are very different. The combination of adolescent defiance, the physical size and aggression of some student populations make it unsafe for untrained staff to become involved with perceived harassment. While I have stepped into brawls to restrain aggressive combatants at Berkeley High, I have also learned to not even look any more when I hear things like “Yo Nigger”, “hey bitch suck my dick”, “fagot”, “punk ass” etc ad nausium.

    There is a question of what is tolerable or allowable, and what is not. That is a decision that needs to be made from the top, and there needs to be specific training on how to handle what is not tolerable or allowable.

    It appears that the new laws demand the State Dept of ED to require more than just the anti-bullying policy requirements of the Safe School Act of 2000. State studies show many districts never did adopt such a policy (AUSD did.) The same studies show many districts did not train staff to deal with these issues even if they had an anti-bullying policy. (If AUSD did do training, it was for a very limited number of administrators, not all the staff that can interact with the student population.) This is what I think the teachers were asking for at the Staff Meetings of 10-08 as discussed at last week’s BOE mtg.

    Why are we not training staff to deal with any kind of name calling, bullying, or perceived harassment?

    The new laws regarding requiring action on harassment specifically says that no curriculum is required. It is “overly wimpy” to just put a K-5 LGBT curriculum together when we have much bigger and widespread harassment problems to deal with . Studies show that over three times as many kids get harassed or bullied on the basis of race ethnicity or religion than on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation.
    Why is the AUSD BOE not looking to deal with the whole problem?

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 2, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  49. Oh, DK, you are such a thin-skinned bully. As Bugs Bunny might say, “What a maroon.”

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 2, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  50. E T, you are correct: Bullying is not a linguistic problem. It’s a social behavior problem, a family problem, a self-esteem problem, a psychological problem. The school district however is engaging in a linguistic exercise—pretending “gay” means something else than its dictionary definition of “homosexual male.” It is trying to pretend that “gay” means a male who is in a happy, loving relationship with another male. We, however, know that there are homosexual males who are not happy, not loving, possibly quite obnoxious, even abusive, and that they may have no interest at all in a relationship, or even be in a heterosexual one for that matter. That’s of course true for heterosexuals as well. I mean, the world’s complicated! Language helps us categorize it and make better sense of it, and we’ve done a pretty good job of it. Gay means homosexual (male); family means people who are intimately connected, either through blood relation or choice; mom is a woman who has given birth and/or is devoted to raising and caring for a certain child or children; dad is a the male counterpart of that, etc.

    Everybody learns what all these words mean when they have the concept to attach them to. Since young children don’t have a concept of sex yet, teaching them words about homo- or heterosexuality is unproductive, possibly counterproductive. Teaching them words about family (something they already know something about) is great—expanding the definition of that with phrases like “two-mom family” and “two-dad family” is wonderful. Expanding it with phrases like “gay family” and “lesbian family” is educationally wrong. It violates the widely accepted principle in language development that a word must attach to a concept to be understood. This is why kids say such funny things as “Gladly the cross-eyed bear” instead of “Gladly the cross I’d bear.”

    So knowing that young kids still have no concept of sex, how do you explain a word that in its core signifies a sexual preference? Do you change the definition? That’s linguistically irresponsible, but let’s see where it takes us: Do you teach that “gay” means two married men? Any single gay man should be offended by this. And how do you define to a child a family that has a single gay dad? As a single dad, or a gay dad? And if as a single gay dad, what makes him different from Katie’s just single dad? What’s gay anyway? See, you can only beat around the bush so long before you slide right back to the central definition of the word which has to do with sexual (not ready to be introduced concept) preference. You either do that, or you play word god, twisting word’s meanings around to suit your purpose of the moment—which is also educationally irresponsible, considering that a huge part of education is learning the proper meaning and usage of words.

    In addition, when words are not well explained or understood, they become ammunition for ever new ways of bullying—now you can use the word “gay” to tease two boys who play together all the time, the way a boy and a girl playmates are often teased that they are “married”—both concepts misapplied, both upsetting to kids. Have you prevented teasing? No. But you’ve made a few parents feel better about themselves. How very selfish.

    So yes, it is a very interesting linguistic act the district will be engaging in when writing the definitions of these words (gay, lesbian, LGBT) without implying or mentioning sex , and the linguistic meandering they will have to do will have, in my opinion, no positive effect on the behavior problem of bullying. I’m still waiting for the sheet with vocabulary definitions for the third grade lesson, if one exists, and I can only imagine how difficult it is to put one together without being either wrong or dishonest.

    I donlt really plan to stay engaged here on this thread, as I’m wasting considerable amount of time and have no hope of changing anyone’s mind, but just wanted to clarify to ET what I meant by “linguistic.” I’m happy to have this discussion with anyone in person though.

    Comment by AD — May 2, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

  51. Dave,

    I’m sorry that you have apparently misread my posts and/or confused me with a long-dead Biblical king who is wiser than I (DK, #42).

    Apparently you believe that name-calling and insults (“megalomaniacal” and more) are an appropriate response to others. I never called you any names, and I apologize if I did so inadvertently. (While I may oppose your views, name-calling was never my goal.) I hope that “bullying” others is not your goal, either. You have claimed otherwise, and I believe you are sincere in that belief: “…My intent has not been to offend”(#36).

    QUOTES and QUOTATION MARKS
    First, I have quoted you and other posters here accurately in my posts, using the comments that each respondent posted and attributing each quotation by its post number. I invite every reader to point out any errors in my numbered quotations.

    I have also used quotation marks in other ways in my posts, however, to emphasize and set apart certain words. In these cases I was not attributing those words to you or to anyone else: if I had been, I would have attributed them by number.

    (For example, I enclosed “taboo” in quotes to indicate that, in my estimation, it is equivalent to your suggested prohibition of certain vocabulary terms from the K-3 curriculum. But I was not quoting you or anyone else in that instance. Ditto for my use of the unusual phrase “Seven Bleepable Words.”)

    2) I DID address your specific “other issues” (#38) as you asked. My posting #41 was a reply to you and specifically addressed your criticism of the Grade 1 curriculum in #38.

    3) I have never claimed, as you did in #42,that I was “the sole source of what is right and wrong for all the District’s children.” I never set myself up as “the King Solomon of the Franklin play yard,” either.

    At Franklin I simply stepped in as a concerned citizen and neighbor, was trained as a volunteer, and spent many hours on the yard as a small contribution to my community and its kids. I used my God-given gifts and talents to the best of my ability in that work, just as I am sure you use yours as a parent. Volunteering and citizenship do not require that we have specialized training. We are only asked to do our best, use common sense, abide by our training, and follow the rules. I did all that.

    4) “…Why were you at Franklin?” (Why was I not at Alameda or Encinal High?)
    a) I was asked by then-principal Shirley Clem to help her out “for a few days.”

    b) I had already spent 10 years leading weekly jail Bible studies and church services at the San Mateo County Jail, and saw up close what happens with not enough love, support, and mutual respect combined with too much violence and abuse. I was looking for an opportunity to make a positive impact with Alameda’s kids and help people stay OUT of jail. That’s much easier in grades K-5 than in high school.

    5) “…why aren’t you on-board with protecting all students as the State law requires?”
    I have always advocated (and acted) to protect “all students,” and my support of this LGBT proposal is just one small part of that. I spent 3-4 weekdays every week for three school years “protecting all students” from falling on play structures, verbal abuse, physical bullying (hitting, pushing, screaming), having balls and toys taken forcibly taken away from them, etc. These acts took place for myriad reasons: sometimes an LGBT-related slur was involved, but usually it was something else.

    6) What is the “forced education format” you refer to in #42? I do not recall advocating or reading that phrase anywhere in this thread. From where are you citing this, please?

    7) I just read your latest post (#48), which seems to continue the personal attacks on me (versus challenging my arguments, which is, on the other hand, entirely fair).

    You said in #48:
    “What if everyday I pointed out that Jon is supportive of pedophilia as an open and honest expression of his love for children? While daily repetitions of outlandish statements don’t make them true, such statements do obviously distract from the real issues at hand.”

    It seems to me that such statements are not germane to the subject at hand, and they need to be read very carefully to avoid being taken out of context and misunderstood as a statement of fact and a personal attack (libel or slander). I wish you would be a bit more careful in your use of such rhetorical devices.

    Your last comment (quoted above) reads and feels a lot like insult and bullying, whether or not you intend it that way.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 2, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

  52. What about words like, “pig?”

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 2, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

  53. ANT: Exactly.
    Let the non sequiturs rein, or is that rain?

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 2, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

  54. Oops, meant to write reign. Darned keyboard.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 2, 2009 @ 5:03 pm

  55. How is this going to be enforced? Is it the context of the speech and how a teacher or other adult interprets what is said? For example, if one student yells at another “Jew” on the playground, is that a slur? What if the student who is being yelled at is Jewish? It seems to me that teachers will need to interpret the context of the speech in order to determine if it is bullying. If one African American student calls another N*gger, is that reason for discipline?
    What if one student calls another fat — and the student being called fat really is fat? What are we trying to accomplish?

    I think that we need to separate sexual identity and behavior, which should probably be addressed beginning about age ten, and rude name-calling behavior which should probably be addressed starting in preschool. Just because certain slurs are sexual in nature, it does not mean that the intent behind the slur is sexual in nature. In any case, the adults need to be in charge here and make clear to young people what is acceptable behavior and what is not. It is never acceptable to be rude and insulting to others regardless of the situation.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 2, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  56. ANT,

    You are absolutely correct: “It is never acceptable to be rude and insulting to others regardless of the situation.”

    We had instances like these on the yard at Franklin.

    Intent is usualy quite evident from the tone of voice and the context. More can be discerned by questioning the kids who are involved, which could be done by volunteers, teachers, and/or administrators, as needed.

    With bullying, truth is not a defense: if words were used with an intent to harm, they were considered insults, even if the target of the abuse happened to be overweight, Jewish, etc. Revenge was not considered an acceptable defense for abusive behavior or violence, either.

    (This is how we were trained, BTW. Volunteer training was not a DIY program.)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 2, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  57. 55 and 56: Correct. So how explaining the real meaning of one of these words that are commonly used with intent to hurt will change the intent is beyond me.

    Comment by AD — May 2, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

  58. #42: Is Dave Kirwin not sure about Equality California, which was behind The Safe Place to Learn Act?
    Quoting from #42:
    “Lead Author: Assemblymember Lloyd Levine
    Sponsors: Equality California and Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality”

    DK asks: “(Not even an LGBT advocacy group?)”

    Per the Equality California (EQCA) site:

    http://www.eqca.org/site/pp.asp?c=kuLRJ9MRKrH&b=4025479

    “Founded in 1998, EQCA celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. In the past 10 years, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation.

    Improving the Lives of LGBT Californians

    EQCA works to achieve equality and secure legal protections for LGBT people. To improve the lives of LGBT Californians, EQCA sponsors legislation and coordinates efforts to ensure its passage, lobbies legislators and other policy makers, builds coalitions, develops community strength and empowers individuals and other organizations to engage in the political process.”

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 2, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

  59. I have an idea … why don’t those of you who support this curriculum lead by example and accept and honor those of us who think that it is age-inappropriate?

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 2, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  60. Much of the discussion of the LGBT curriculum has involved and referred to religion and belief. Here is my attempt to clarify why it is important to me, as a person of faith, to support the implementation of a robust anti-bullying and anti-harassment policy in our public schools.

    I have been wrestling with and learning how to address these issues in my own faith and life since high school (1965-1969), and cannot cite the hundreds of people and sources to whom I am indebted for their help along the way. (Lord willing, I am not finished learning yet.)

    Like many people of faith, I DO ask my own and others’ religions and religious institutions to be accountable for their actions. And the history of every religion is filled with stories of war, violence, oppression, and persecution committed in the name of God.

    The entire Judeo-Christian tradition can be characterized as a call by the God of Abraham to “do justice” (Micah 6:8). Christians are called to protect and defend everyone–including our gay, lesbian, and transgender brothers, sisters, and neighbors–against violence, aggression, torture, bullying, and oppression.

    (Prior to the Civil War, many members of my own Episcopal Church, citing the Bible, justified slavery and being slave owners. The KKK invoked the Scriptures when it lynched innocent African Americans, too. Both were clearly wrong, but one can support almost anything by selectively quoting from the Bible.)

    The church cannot claim to “love” all people but refuse to stand up for justice in the name of the oppressed–IF the victims of oppression happen to be gay, lesbian, transgender, black, German, female, Buddhist, Hindu, or otherwise “unacceptable.” (Christian churches in the US, like the Boy Scouts, have historically been on the wrong side of discrimination.)

    Jesus reminded us to “Love God…and love your neighbor…” (Luke 10:27)

    To put the Christianity question a different way: did Jesus die for the sins of only straight people? No.

    Do straight people have an exclusive claim on God’s grace, love, acceptance, and forgiveness? Of course not.

    Does Jesus condone bullying, harassment, or violence against gays and lesbians? No.

    I believe that straights like me have no exclusive claim to moral superiority simply because of our orientation, and that Christians like me have no God-given right to oppress others simply because we believe in Jesus Christ. Not even for the sake of our own right to believe.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 2, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

  61. Why can’t we just agree to not teach about ANY sex or sexual identity concepts until about age 10, or whenever it is that there exists a CA ED code approved / required set of lessons? That way we can all agree that all parents of every sexual orientation, and more importantly, their children, are being treated equally.

    As for name-calling and bullying, or any other form of harassment, none of it shall be allowed on AUSD grounds or related events. (BTW ‘bullying’ involves physical contact) For good measure and decency, we should include foul language as banned behavior too.
    The question would still remain, “How will it be enforced?” and “How will staff be trained?” Those are the important questions, but neither can we violate the constitutional rights of others in the way we decide to carry out a plan., just as we cannot violate anyone’s State rights with the method employed for choosing a plan, as I feel has been done.

    By a 3:1 margin; race, nationality and religion are more commonly the target of school harassment than sexual identity issues. AUSD BOE action is required to address all forms of harassment, not just sexual identity issues, but since a special interest group put this curriculum together, that all it covers..
    Our BOE specifically asked staff if this new proposed agenda addressed issues of these protected status’s and the reply was “No,” the proposed curriculum only addresses issues relating to sexual identity and perceived sexual identity. Aside from being a divisive proposal it does not meet the legal requirements of protecting all from being subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability, or an actual or perceived characteristic that is contained in the definition

    Is there anyone who thinks certain groups need to be treated differently to be treated equally?(excepting ADA laws)

    Whatever Jon’s religious justifications, no matter how well intentioned, nothing gives AUSD the right to violate the religions or religious beliefs of other district families, regardless of whether both he and I disagree with the dogma of those beliefs.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 2, 2009 @ 10:58 pm

  62. 59 and 61

    This discussion is painful to read and hard to partake in. I wish the problem would just go away for sure so this thread could follow.

    To answer you both, kids won’t wait until they are ten to think about sex or to use hurtful remarks about gender to ridicule other kids.

    57 the reason to go into definition is demystification. Like the kid who wrote “bitch”. How can you discipline that child without trying to explain his offense, including defining the word. Some folks will freak about the primary definition without even getting into jailhouse and gangsta versions. What to do?

    It seems the choice is whether to wait for an incident and only deal with that child (and their parents) case by case or to try to implement a lesson plan to prevent these incidents in advance. Remember there are children who have done things like hanged themselves because of ineffectual interventions.

    Comment by M.I. — May 3, 2009 @ 10:52 am

  63. If a 1st grade child uses the word “fuck” do you need to explain the meaning of the word to forbid its use? Do you then explain it to all 1st graders as a preventative measure?

    If the District is not going to define LGBT terms of what they actually mean, then the curriculum should not define them at all. If this is the stumbling block, stop the nonsense. It is certainly not the only severe flaw in the curriculum however.

    I have not heard why explaining terms defining hetero or homosexual choices are needed to teach good manners. I can understand how enforcing school rules is important to maintaining those rules.

    Again, the new state requirements continue to require protection from harassment and name calling on the basis of sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability, whether the characteristic is actual or perceived; at ALL public school ages, not just K-5.

    The purpose of AB 394 is to reinforce AB 537 (2000) because it was found that too many of CA’s school districts failed to implement the requirements of AB 537.
    Also the law specifically states that a “curriculum” is not required, but having a policy and teacher training are needed.

    Some of the other vital questions to ask concerning how well AUSD is meeting the purpose of these Assembly Bills include:

    What is the District currently doing to enforce the school rules of conduct?

    Are the rules listed on site and mailed to parents?

    Are the rules explained well to students and parents?

    Are parents and students informed how to complain when they feel these rules are broken?

    Does the District have a procedure to protect those who make complaints about harassment?

    Are the complaints and resulting actions kept on file for a minimum of 1 year?

    Has staff received training to deal with these issues?

    What portion of staff was trained, and to what degree were they trained, and did training cover ALL forms of harassment including those which are sex and gender related?

    That is what the ED Code requires – real protection for all, not just the children being called “gay”.

    I urge opposition to the AUSD proposal because clearly it is divisive, and it does not address all the protected classes or categories, it does not provide our teachers the training they ask for, or the training that was part of Assemble Bill 537. There is nothing in any of these or related laws requiring any curriculum, but if AUSD wanted to go beyond the scope of the law, findings show a greater need in upper grades to protect students from all forms of harassment.

    To enforce an LGBT curriculum to K-5 is senselessly divisive and will have a substantial impact when the voters are asked for a further tax to support this school system. To choose to teach unrequired lessons which clearly violate the religious beliefs of some of our community violates or infringes upon their freedom of religion. For the district to enter a constitutional court battle instead of using those legal resources to try to balance the student funding formula is unimaginable.

    Clearly AUSD should do what is possible to meet the requirements of all the varied laws to protect all from harassment, physical or verbal. We can accomplish the goals of equality and mutual respect without pitting one protected class against another.

    We have wonderful programs already going in some of our elementary schools such as “Character Matters” which addresses these issues in an age appropriate and community unifying format. Perhaps the new Superintendant should learn about the success of this program, and expand this program to all elementary schools. Teachers should receive training that includes, but is not limited to LGBT sensitivity issues because for every 7 students reporting being harassed on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation 9 students report harassment because of their religion and 14 students report harassment because of their race or ethnicity. What ever we are doing now is working better for sex and gender issues, and working less well for ethnicity, race and religion issues. The current proposal then is not addressing the problem on a fair and equal platform.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 3, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  64. “Remember there are children who have done things like hanged themselves because of ineffectual interventions.”

    There will always be screwed up kids from screwed up families who hang themselves. You do not sacrifice the freedom of every family to make a few people feel better about themselves … for those who would sacrifice their freedom for security deserve neither.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 3, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  65. 63. DK, Can you not conceive of explaining the word to a six year old? You don’t need to get graphic to make the point, but if they don’t know the meaning maybe just attempting to explain it would shock them into contrition. You could start by asking them what they know about the word and work from there. It might be best to leave that explanation to the parents of the offender if he or she were that young, because of course we don’t want to trample their freedom to educate their child on such a delicate subject, but yes, the only real way to ameliorate ignorance is to through understanding.

    64.yeah, always blame the victim and then make sure to twist the knife, by insisting it’s their fault for not sucking it up and learning to take ridicule like a tough guy. Suicide is for sissies right? Like all the scores of vets who have fought for your freedom but somehow have taken that route when their burdens became too great.

    Did it ever occur to you that bully’s in a situation like the Hoover boy in Mass. who hung himself are probably more screwed up than he ever was but they just happen to still be breathing. There is no inherent justice in that unless you adhere to some twisted code of Darwinian socialism, which it seems you may.

    “Jeff”, do you have any capacity for empathy or is that only for wimps? You’ve never evidenced that capacity here on the ol’ cyber-playground and in fact you seem to revel in a lack of it. Come to think of it, that’s kinda like a bully.

    Comment by M.I. — May 3, 2009 @ 7:25 pm

  66. If Jeff R. Thomason and David Kirwin had had the benefit of this curriculum when they were in elementary school maybe they wouldn’t have grown up to be such hate filled, bigoted bullies. It’s a shame that so many still have the need to feel superior to others. No ones freedom is more important than any others Mr. Thomason and no child should die because of ignorance like yours.

    Comment by Karry — May 3, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

  67. Mark,

    Yes I can conceive of not explaining words to 6 yr olds, or 7, or 8, or 9.

    “if they don’t know the meaning maybe just attempting to explain it would shock them into contrition. You could start by asking them what they know about the word and work from there”
    – I was more relieved with the suggestion of not explaining words that are inappropriate for them to use. All in good time as they say. Also I am sure there are some who think “gay” and “lesbian”, and “heterosexual” are fine everyday words for any age, just as the mother of the 2 yr old who asked our 2 yr old to stick his penis in her vagina. Maybe understanding of such words seemed was fine with her mother, (obviously it was, she taught her daughter), but it was not ok with us. None of these words are “bad”, but they can be inappropriate for young ages, and many of us don’t want children to have to be concerned or aware of choices of sexual orientation during their brief “age of innocence”.

    “It might be best to leave that explanation to the parents of the offender if he or she were that young, because of course we don’t want to trample their freedom to educate their child on such a delicate subject”
    -Of course, though I feel it is the delicacy of the child’s age the fact that their brain is not yet through developing…, not the subject matter.

    “the only real way to ameliorate ignorance is to through understanding.”
    -Agreed. Do we also agree that AUSD should 1st meet the goal of the new anti-discrimination laws before it tries to go beyond them? We should cover all the bases before going outside the field of requirements. Once the bases are covered, as outlined in #63, then AUSD can deliver education and understanding to an age appropriate grade level. I am confused as to how AUSD got so far off the rails.

    Comment by DK — May 3, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  68. hate filled, bigoted bully?

    Karry, do you think this of me because of all the volunteer hours I worked with addicts and alcoholics? Is it because my wife and I often took our kids to protest against Prop 8? Are YOU offended that my wife & I had a collection of Prop8 signs we would remove from public property prior to the ballot? Is it for the years I worked on marriage equality floats for the Pride parade, and for the years our family participated IN the parade? Is it because I believe AUSD has an obligation to meet all the goals of anti-discrimination laws in a way that is balanced for all whom are discriminated against?

    Is this why you think I am a hate filled, bigoted bully?

    Or is it simply because I think children should have a few of their developing years free of the complex issues of choosing their sexual orientation? Or that I believe words that are inappropriate for kids to use should not be taught to them until age appropriate?

    Or is it because I dislike Jon S’s put down of religions if he disagrees with their dogmas or his dismissal of all opinions outside of his own?

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 3, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

  69. #61: “‘bullying’ involves physical contact) For good measure and decency, we should include foul language as banned behavior too.”

    Not quite true, according to Merriam-Webster:

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bullying

    bullying
    One entry found.
    Ads by Google
    Take Action Stop Bullying
    10 Actions You Can Take Now to Identify and Stop Bullying!
    http://www.Education.com/Bullying

    Main Entry:

    bully
    Function:
    verb
    Inflected Form(s):
    bul·lied; bul·ly·ing
    Date:
    1693
    transitive verb
    1 : to treat abusively
    2 : to affect by means of force or coercion
    intransitive verb
    : to use browbeating language or behavior : bluster
    synonyms see intimidate

    This definition clearly encompasses more than just physical means of intimidation. And my AUSD training as a noon supervisor volunteer re: bullying, harassment, etc., covered all potential forms of abuse, harassment, etc. (verbal, physical, written, etc.)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 3, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

  70. #61 — Yes, I totally agree with Jon here. Bullying as defined by bullying experts (i.e., psychologists and sociologists who study bullying) includes — but absolutely is not limited to — physical aggression. Bullying also includes “relational aggression” (e.g., teasing and other verbal abuse, rumor mongering, excluding, ignoring, and cyber-bullying — a very fast-growing form of bullying that involves harassing people via the Internet or cell phones).

    This is serious stuff and can be very damaging to children’s self esteem.

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 3, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

  71. That ‘bullying involves contact’..
    Since I cannot trace which source that came from, I will gladly concede that point, or at least stipulate that the type of harassment inflicted does not matter because no form of harassment is tolerable in our schools.

    As for the current proposal and how it fails the objectives of AB 394 and its precursor or foundation AD 537 just go thru the actual law.

    If you are honest, (regardless of how you feel about the program or the dogma of CLS or other religions, or how you perceive the value or lack of value of opinions of others), you will have to admit the current proposal does not meet the objective. You will also have to admit, if you are honest, that the AUSD proposal is divisive and will have an effect on future attempts to gain further parcel tax revenues at the ballot.

    Here is the text of AB394 next post will be AB 537 You will see it is not meant to cover JUST LGBT issues, and studies show that currently far more students are still harmed from non-LGBT harassment than from LGBT harassment. Why are you only focusing on the K-5 LGBT issues with the current AUSD proposal? My belief is that it is caused by the biased group which assembled this curriculum.

    AB 394 – ‘The New Law’

    BILL NUMBER: AB 394 ENROLLED
    BILL TEXT

    PASSED THE SENATE SEPTEMBER 11, 2007
    PASSED THE ASSEMBLY SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
    AMENDED IN SENATE JULY 18, 2007
    AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JUNE 1, 2007
    AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY MARCH 29, 2007

    INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Levine

    FEBRUARY 15, 2007

    An act to add Article 5.5 (commencing with Section 234) to Chapter
    2 of Part 1 of Division 1 of Title 1 of the Education Code, relating
    to discrimination.

    LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

    AB 394, Levine. Safe schools: discrimination and harassment.
    Existing law prohibits discrimination on the basis of specified
    protected characteristics, including, but not limited to, actual and
    perceived gender identification and sexual orientation, in any
    program or activity conducted by an educational institution, as
    specified.
    This bill would require the State Department of Education to
    monitor adherence to the antidiscrimination and antiharassment
    requirements as part of its regular monitoring and review of local
    educational agencies and to assess whether local educational agencies
    have done certain things, including, among others, adopted a policy
    that prohibits discrimination and harassment and adopted a process
    for receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination and
    harassment. The department would be required to display information
    on curricula and other resources that specifically address
    bias-related discrimination and harassment on specified Internet Web
    sites. The department would also be required to develop, and post on
    appropriate department Internet Web sites, a model handout describing
    certain rights and obligations relating to antidiscrimination and
    antiharassment and the policies addressing bias-related
    discrimination and harassment in schools.

    THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

    SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the
    following:
    (a) All pupils in public primary, elementary, middle, junior high,
    and senior high schools have the inalienable right to attend school
    at school campuses that are safe, secure, and peaceful.
    (b) Pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 201 of the Education
    Code, public schools in California have an affirmative obligation to
    combat racism, sexism, and other forms of bias, and a responsibility
    to provide equal educational opportunity.
    (c) The California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of
    2000 reaffirmed the right of all pupils to a safe school environment
    by prohibiting a person from being subjected to discrimination on the
    basis of sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin,
    religion, color, mental or physical disability, or an actual or
    perceived characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate
    crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code in a program or
    activity conducted by an educational institution that receives, or
    benefits from, state financial assistance or enrolls pupils who
    receive state student financial aid.
    (d) Hate-motivated incidents jeopardize the safety and well-being
    of all pupils because they target not only the individual victim, but
    everyone who shares the identity that motivated the particular
    incident. Unfortunately, there have been increasing reports of
    hate-motivated incidents and crimes in California schools.
    (e) (1) Numerous studies point to an ongoing problem of
    discrimination, harassment, and violence in schools that has severe
    consequences for pupils. For example, the 2004-06 California Healthy
    Kids Survey results found that between 27 to 30 percent of California
    middle and high school pupils reported experiencing bias-related
    harassment at school related to their race, ethnicity, gender,
    religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
    (2) Many school districts are not effectively addressing
    discrimination and harassment on campus. Less than half of grade 9
    pupils express feeling safe at school, while 46 percent of pupils
    said their schools were not safe for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
    transgender (LGBT) pupils.
    (3) Many teachers have not received training to prevent or respond
    to illegal discrimination and harassment. A majority of school
    districts do not require training on how to address discrimination
    and harassment based on sexual orientation for their elementary,
    middle, or high school teachers.
    (4) Many pupils and parents are unaware of nondiscrimination
    policies, with 23 percent of pupils and 29 percent of parents not
    being informed of the policies.
    (f) In a public hearing conducted on October 3, 2002, by the
    California Senate Select Committee on School Safety, pupils,
    teachers, parents, researchers, and advocates from all over the state
    testified about incidents of ongoing discrimination and harassment
    and an inadequate response from school authorities.
    (g) Bias-related discrimination and harassment have negative
    consequences for pupil health, well-being, and academic success. For
    example, the Safe Place to Learn report issued by the California Safe
    Schools Coalition and the 4-H Center for Youth Development at the
    Davis campus of the University of California found that pupils who
    are harassed based on actual or perceived sexual orientation are at
    least three times more likely to carry a weapon to school, to
    seriously consider suicide, to make a plan for attempting suicide, or
    to miss at least one day of school per 30 schooldays because they do
    not feel safe. In addition, a survey of San Francisco Asian American
    youth found that 36 percent cited racial tension as the primary
    cause for fights on campus.
    (h) A number of school districts have paid hundreds of thousands
    of dollars in damages to settle lawsuits by pupils claiming their
    schools failed to protect them from harassment, intimidation, and
    violence, including a June 2005 jury award of three hundred thousand
    dollars ($300,000) in San Diego to two former high school pupils for
    the harassment they received at school based on their actual or
    perceived sexual orientation and a January 2007 settlement of
    forty-five thousand dollars ($45,000) in a Contra Costa County
    lawsuit alleging that school officials failed to protect a pupil from
    repeated attacks motivated by racial and ethnic prejudice.
    SEC. 2. Article 5.5 (commencing with Section 234) is added to
    Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 1 of Title 1 of the Education Code,
    to read:

    Article 5.5. Safe Place to Learn Act

    234. (a) This article shall be known and may be cited as the Safe
    Place to Learn Act.
    (b) It is the policy of the State of California to ensure that all
    local educational agencies continue to work to reduce
    discrimination, harassment, and violence. It is further the policy of
    the state to improve pupil safety at schools and the connections
    between pupils and supportive adults, schools, and communities.
    234.1. The department, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section
    64001, shall monitor adherence to the requirements of Chapter 5.3
    (commencing with Section 4900) of Division 1 of Title 5 of the
    California Code of Regulations and Chapter 2 (commencing with Section
    200) as part of its regular monitoring and review of local
    educational agencies, commonly known as the Categorical Program
    Monitoring process. The department shall assess whether local
    educational agencies have done all of the following:
    (a) Adopted a policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment
    based on the characteristics set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal
    Code and Section 220.
    (b) Adopted a process for receiving and investigating complaints
    of discrimination and harassment based on the characteristics set
    forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code and Section 220.
    (c) Publicized antidiscrimination and antiharassment policies,
    including information about the manner in which to file a complaint,
    to pupils, parents, employees, agents of the governing board, and the
    general public. The information shall be translated pursuant to
    Section 48985.
    (d) Posted antidiscrimination and antiharassment policies in all
    schools and offices, including staff lounges and pupil government
    meeting rooms.
    (e) Maintained documentation of complaints and their resolution
    for a minimum of one review cycle.
    (f) Ensured that complainants are protected from retaliation and
    that the identity of a complainant alleging discrimination or
    harassment remains confidential, as appropriate.
    (g) Identified a responsible local educational agency officer for
    ensuring district or office compliance with the requirements of
    Chapter 5.3 (commencing with Section 4900) of Division 1 of Title 5
    of the California Code of Regulations and Chapter 2 (commencing with
    Section 200).
    234.2. The department shall display information on curricula and
    other resources that specifically address bias-related discrimination
    and harassment based on the characteristics set forth in Section
    422.55 of the Penal Code and Section 220 on the California Healthy
    Kids Resource Center Internet Web site and other appropriate
    department Internet Web sites where information about discrimination
    and harassment is posted.
    234.3. The department shall develop a model handout describing
    the rights and obligations set forth in Sections 200, 201, and 220
    and the policies addressing bias-related discrimination and
    harassment in schools. This model handout shall be posted on
    appropriate department Internet Web sites.

    Comment by DK AB 394 — May 3, 2009 @ 11:22 pm

  72. Assembly Bill No. 537
    CHAPTER 587
    An act to amend Sections 200, 220, 66251, and 66270 of, to add
    Section 241 to, and to amend and renumber Sections 221 and 66271
    of, the Education Code, relating to discrimination.
    [Approved by Governor October 2, 1999. Filed
    with Secretary of State October 10, 1999.]
    LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
    AB 537, Kuehl. Discrimination.
    (1) Existing law provides that it is the policy of the State of
    California to afford all persons in public schools and postsecondary
    institutions, regardless of their sex, ethnic group identification, race,
    national origin, religion, or mental or physical disability, equal rights
    and opportunities in the educational institutions of the state.
    Existing law makes it a crime for a person, whether or not acting
    under color of law, to willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with,
    oppress, or threaten any other person, by force or threat of force, in
    the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to
    him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the
    Constitution or laws of the United States because of the other person’s
    race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or
    sexual orientation, or because he or she perceives that the other
    person has one or more of those characteristics.
    This bill would also provide that it is the policy of the state to afford
    all persons in public school and postsecondary institutions equal
    rights and opportunities in the educational institutions of the state,
    regardless of any basis referred to in the aforementioned paragraph.
    (2) Existing law prohibits a person from being subjected to
    discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnic group identification, race,
    national origin, religion, color, or mental or physical disability in any
    program or activity conducted by any educational institution or
    postsecondary educational institution that receives, or benefits from,
    state financial assistance or enrolls students who receive state student
    financial aid.
    This bill would also prohibit a person from being subjected to
    discrimination on the basis of any basis referred to in paragraph (1)
    in any program or activity conducted by any educational institution
    or postsecondary educational institution that receives, or benefits
    from, state financial assistance or enrolls students who receive state
    student financial aid.
    (3) This bill would state that it does not require the inclusion of
    any curriculum, textbook, presentation, or other material in any
    Ch. 587 —2—
    92
    program or activity conducted by an educational institution or a
    postsecondary educational institution and would prohibit this bill
    from being deemed to be violated by the omission of any curriculum,
    textbook, presentation, or other material in any program or activity
    conducted by an educational institution or a postsecondary
    educational institution.
    To the extent that this bill would impose new duties on school
    districts and community college districts, it would impose a
    state-mandated local program.
    (4) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse
    local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the
    state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
    reimbursement, including the creation of a State Mandates Claims
    Fund to pay the costs of mandates that do not exceed $1,000,000
    statewide and other procedures for claims whose statewide costs
    exceed $1,000,000.
    This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates
    determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state,
    reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these
    statutory provisions.
    The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
    SECTION 1. This bill shall be known, and may be cited, as the
    California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000.
    SEC. 2. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the
    following:
    (1) Under the California Constitution, all students of public
    schools have the inalienable right to attend campuses that are safe,
    secure, and peaceful. Violence is the number one cause of death for
    young people in California and has become a public health problem
    of epidemic proportion. One of the Legislature’s highest priorities
    must be to prevent our children from the plague of violence.
    (2) The fastest growing, violent crime in California is hate crime,
    and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that all students attending
    public school in California are protected from potentially violent
    discrimination. Educators see how violence affects youth every day;
    they know first hand that youth cannot learn if they are concerned
    about their safety. This legislation is designed to protect the
    institution of learning as well as our students.
    (3) Not only do we need to address the issue of school violence but
    also we must strive to reverse the increase in teen suicide. The
    number of teens who attempt suicide, as well as the number who
    actually kill themselves, has risen substantially in recent years. Teen
    suicides in the United States have doubled in number since 1960 and
    every year over a quarter of a million adolescents in the United States
    attempt suicide. Sadly, approximately 4,000 of these attempts every
    —3— Ch. 587
    92
    year are completed. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for
    youths 15 through 24 years of age. To combat this problem we must
    seriously examine these grim statistics and take immediate action to
    ensure all students are offered equal protection from discrimination
    under California law.
    SEC. 3. Section 200 of the Education Code is amended to read:
    200. It is the policy of the State of California to afford all persons
    in public schools, regardless of their sex, ethnic group identification,
    race, national origin, religion, mental or physical disability, or
    regardless of any basis that is contained in the prohibition of hate
    crimes set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 422.6 of the Penal Code,
    equal rights and opportunities in the educational institutions of the
    state. The purpose of this chapter is to prohibit acts which are
    contrary to that policy and to provide remedies therefor.
    SEC. 4. Section 220 of the Education Code is amended to read:
    220. No person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis
    of sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion,
    color, mental or physical disability, or any basis that is contained in
    the prohibition of hate crimes set forth in subdivision (a) of Section
    422.6 of the Penal Code in any program or activity conducted by an
    educational institution that receives, or benefits from, state financial
    assistance or enrolls pupils who receive state student financial aid.
    SEC. 5. Section 221 of the Education Code is renumbered to read:
    220.5. This article shall not apply to an educational institution
    which is controlled by a religious organization if the application
    would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.
    SEC. 6. Section 241 is added to the Education Code, to read:
    241. Nothing in the California Student Safety and Violence
    Prevention Act of 2000 requires the inclusion of any curriculum,
    textbook, presentation, or other material in any program or activity
    conducted by an educational institution or postsecondary
    educational institution; the California Student Safety and Violence
    Prevention Act of 2000 shall not be deemed to be violated by the
    omission of any curriculum, textbook, presentation, or other material
    in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution
    or postsecondary educational institution.
    SEC. 7. Section 66251 of the Education Code is amended to read:
    66251. It is the policy of the State of California to afford all
    persons, regardless of their sex, ethnic group identification, race,
    national origin, religion, mental or physical disability, or regardless
    of any basis that is contained in the prohibition of hate crimes set forth
    in subdivision (a) of Section 422.6 of the Penal Code, equal rights and
    opportunities in the postsecondary institutions of the state. The
    purpose of this chapter is to prohibit acts that are contrary to that
    policy and to provide remedies therefor.
    SEC. 8. Section 66270 of the Education Code is amended to read:
    Ch. 587 —4—
    92
    66270. No person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis
    of sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion,
    color, or mental or physical disability, or any basis that is contained
    in the prohibition of hate crimes set forth in subdivision (a) of Section
    422.6 of the Penal Code in any program or activity conducted by any
    postsecondary educational institution that receives, or benefits from,
    state financial assistance or enrolls students who receive state student
    financial aid.
    SEC. 9. Section 66271 of the Education Code is renumbered to
    read:
    66270.5. This chapter shall not apply to an educational institution
    that is controlled by a religious organization if the application would
    not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.
    SEC. 10. Notwithstanding Section 17610 of the Government
    Code, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act
    contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local
    agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant
    to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of
    the Government Code. If the statewide cost of the claim for
    reimbursement does not exceed one million dollars ($1,000,000),
    reimbursement shall be made from the State Mandates Claims Fund.
    O

    Comment by AB 537 — May 3, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

  73. #68 David

    Maybe “hate filled” was too strong of a term to describe you. I am sure that in your mind you do not find gay people “repulsive” as does Mr. Thomason does. For that I apologize. Although, what you are doing here is just as bad. Your acceptance of LGBT people comes with conditions. It is ok for gay people to exist in your life as long as they do not cross the line you have set in the sand for them. Be gay, but don’t tell my children about it or a least don’t explain it to them. God forbid they should be exposed to gay before they head off to middle school. Because some how they will be damaged? That is what you are saying here. Give your kids some credit.

    You don’t have any idea of what it is like for a child who will grow up to be gay not to have any recognition of their being as a child. The promotion of heterosexuality is pervasive through every aspect of our society right down to the day a baby is born. No one seems to have a problem with that. There is no such recognition for young LGBT people. NONE! Many, many children who grow up to be gay know at a very early age that they do not fit into the standards that society is forcing upon them yet still today the system does acknowledge them or give them any role model to relate to. I think that so many people are afraid that if we talk about gay people at an early age that somehow their kids are going to “catch gay”. It’s not a virus it’s not a something that anyone just decides one day that they are going to be. It is who people are to their very core and no one made them that way any more so than you made a decision to be a heterosexual. So not to acknowledge and celebrate people who may be different than you even in kindergarten is to discriminate Mr. Kirwin.

    You can stand up and say look at me I put a no on Prop 8 sign in my front yard and I marched in the Gay Parade aren’t I a great person. But when you put conditions on your acceptance and love of people who are different than you, your kind of expectance is then no different than telling an African-American person that you accept and love them but they still have to ride in the back of the bus.

    Why don’t you turn off your computer and go have coffee with a gay friend or family member, if you have any and ask them how they really feel about your conditional acceptance of them and then maybe you will understand how your ignorance is hurting our children.

    Comment by Karry — May 4, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  74. I don’t find gay people repulsive … I find the gay sex repulsive and do not think that our kids need to be taken down that path so early in life.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 4, 2009 @ 11:48 am

  75. The way you get so amped up about it, Freud might wonder just how repulsive you really do find it….
    :)

    Comment by dave — May 4, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  76. It seems clear from reading this blog there are passionate views on both sides of the spectrum. At what point does ones acknowledge that their are those among us who will never agree. Whether the reason be motivated by religion, fear or joy found in being contrary. At some point one must realize that the poor horse is dead, and beating it will not help make it better.
    Advocates for the curriculum, Thank you for all your hard work and passion. Use your time and energy wisely. Some people get a kick out of engaging others in argument that is cloaked as open discussion or dialog.

    Comment by T.Koeberl — May 4, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  77. #73 –
    Kerry

    You are entitled to your perceptions, but I think you are spewing nonsense with your statements that I perceive or condition my acceptance of my gay friends differently than my hetero friends. None of my friends of any persuasion is going to discuss sexual orientation choices to my children, and I don’t think it appropriate for schools to teach about it even in a general way during elementary school years.

    “The promotion of heterosexuality is pervasive through every aspect of our society right down to the day a baby is born.”
    -What is your objective with this statement?
    -What does this even mean? Who is promoting any sexual orientation in our schools? If you are talking about what children see in the world at large, you must recognize that in our society hetero is more common than homo. (I use these terms this way while blogging just as’shorthand’, there is nothing de-meaning of such use)
    Do you think gays should be provided “equal time” in movie & TV productions, or in commercial advertisements? Whatever it is you mean, why are you only supporting non-hetero, or are you supportive of all sex choices, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability, or any actual or perceived characteristic that is contained that list?

    “I think that so many people are afraid that if we talk about gay people at an early age that somehow their kids are going to “catch gay”.”
    -Again, this is your perception, you’re entitled to it, but I think it is WAY off base. Perhaps we can agree on some statements as a precondition to you making statements about how I understand and view the issue.

    1. The human brain is neither mature nor fully developed at birth. (This is true regardless of whether people believe that adult sexual orientation is established at birth, a concept for which I know of no supporting scientific evidence, but perhaps not germane to this discussion.)The human brain continues to develop throughout childhood far into adolescence when the increased development of the frontal cortex takes place. Sexual partnering choices are not made in early childhood.
    2. As young children entering into the AUSD system, kids are still forming their gender identity, not their sexual orientation. Boys and girls perform the same activities whether playing with tools or playing with dolls. It is all acceptable, or should be. Some differences clearly emerge For example;
    – boys are much more likely to play ‘gun games’ and girls are more likely to engage in ‘passive play’. I don’t mean these behaviors are qualifications of gender or statements on gender – ‘passive play’ may be more related to types or stages of intellectual development than gender related, and both sexes engage in both activities, but to observably different degrees.
    3. Throughout elementary school gender differences continue to emerge, even when both sexes are doing the same activities. I believe this is biological, though the choice of activities may be both ‘nature and nurture’. These are my observations, and at those young ages I see no movement or alignment to sexual orientation, the children are as likely, or more likely, to cling, emotionally and physically, to others of their own sex than to those of the opposite sex.
    4. Children do see and accept the world around them. Children may see classmates with only one parent, or two parents of the same sex. Does this affect the hormones or other enzymes which will orient a future choice of sexual partner of a child? I think not, and there is no benefit to educating elementary age kids to issues of sexual orientation. In my experience with our two kids in the AUSD system, there has NEVER been elementary school children harassed on the basis of having LGBT parents. AUSD is required to have records of harassment; can such LGBT harassment be shown? If so, what is the AUSD policy of what actions should result? Those are the things the new Assembly Bills are looking for – and what is AUSD doing to address that?
    Even if it could be shown it has happened (elementary school harassment on the basis of having LGBT parents – with 10,000 students – it’s possible) teaching sexual orientation to K-5 is not an appropriate solution to curtailing name calling and bullying in elementary school.

    While the world at large may exemplify more models of heteros than other orientations, it is not the purpose or goal of our school district to balance or counter-act the rest of the world.

    “You can stand up and say look at me I put a no on Prop 8 sign in my front yard and I marched in the Gay Parade aren’t I a great person.”
    -Not great Kerry, but I am open-minded.

    “But when you put conditions on your acceptance and love of people who are different than you, your kind of expectance is then no different than telling an African-American person that you accept and love them but they still have to ride in the back of the bus.”
    -I strongly resent this statement.

    It is grossly inaccurate for you to refer to me this way. My conditions of acceptance are the same regardless of sex choices, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability, or any actual or perceived characteristic of the above. I wish the proponents pushing the proposed AUSD curriculum could say the same with their actions.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 4, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  78. The reason you resent that statement is becuase it is painfully accurate.

    Comment by dave — May 4, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  79. #78
    “The reason you resent that statement is becuase it is painfully accurate.”

    Dave, – You have no right or authority to say this inaccurate and slanderous comment. You don’t know me, my friends, or the way I treat them. It is purely your form of ‘name calling’, and based only on your own bullshit.
    …But it clears up how name calling can grow to physical violence because if we were on a school yard, I would surly have felt like calling you out to eat your words. Because of the transient nature of feelings, hopefully a few minutes would intervene, emotional heat would dissipate and we could instead engage in an argument, debate or conversation.

    Perhaps the reason you want to mislabel me is because you would rather not discuss the lackings of this LGBT sponsored proposal.

    I had thought better of you than this comment of yours deserves. It is a disappointing representation of you, and devaluing of your other posted evaluations.

    Comment by DK — May 4, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

  80. So let me understand this.

    In the name of equity or equality the LGBT community wants AUSD to continue to not adequately serve to protect against violence and bullying against Blacks, Latinos and Asians, or harassment of any protected status except when related to sex / gender, real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identification, whether or not it relates to birth sex. (LGBTQ political strength has resulted in so many add-ons, it takes a score card to remember all the elements of this protected classification.)

    Is that what is considered equality? I guess when a special interest group is running this show equal protection is a relevant term. In Orwellian words, when pigs make the rules, pigs are more equal than others so they deserve all the equal protection.

    While this curriculum would be an “excellent” achievement for one special interest group, the BOE will have to determine if continuing to ignore the failings of present anti-discrimination efforts covering all AUSD students, and focusing a new unrequired curriculum on only one special interest group at only elementary level meets with their promise of delivering ‘Equity over Excellence’.

    Hopefully our elected officials will tell the District to find a program that serves to better protect all.

    Comment by Parent and voter — May 4, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

  81. #80:

    The LGBT-specific curriculum addresses only the LGBT-related bullying issues that have not yet been addressed in the classroom.

    Other protected groups (as addressed in AB 537, etc.) are already addressed by existing curricula, which I hope will be improved, BTW. There is absolutely no implicit or explicit reduction in the protections against racism, sexism, or harassment/discrimination of any other type in the LGBT-specific curriculum.

    Your argument is akin to claiming that because spelling is not covered in math class (but math is, indeed, covered, in a separate math class) that spelling is the only subject taught in the school.

    Every AUSD policy on the subject reiterates the intent of state statutes that discrimination against anyone–particularly those in :”protected classes”–is wrong and will not be tolerated.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 4, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

  82. post #78
    Dave I agree with you, D.K. can write thousands of words but they don’t say much. I think he really believes that the more words he spews it some how makes his point.
    Dave I don’t think that you have devalued your other posts in the least. I only wish that D.K. could say things a little more briefly.

    I guess you got him mad, because if he were on a school yard he said he would call you out. Sounds like a BULLY to me.

    Dave please don’t start using thousands of words to try to get your point across. I am a very simple person, I just need a couple of sentences.

    Comment by John Piziali — May 4, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  83. John,

    Look at the text of the laws. compare to proposal.

    Need new proposal.

    Brief enough?

    To address issues more throughly takes more words. Truth is not in the sound byte

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 4, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

  84. Jon,
    By all appearances, studies, and records, less than 1 in 4 cases of school age harassment are related to LGBT issues.

    Suicide is till the 3rd leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 to 24 excluding motor vehicle accidents and homicides.

    Your faulty analogy that because we have failed to properly treat the whole harassment problem does not justify a new program to only treat a very small part of one fraction of the problem. That is neither equity nor excellence. It is lame, it is lazy.

    Currently AUSD does not meet goals of AB537, and this plan does not either.
    How can you justify only dealing with LGBT issues of harassment, and only at the K-5 level?

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 4, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

  85. #84:

    So, if “less than 1 in 4 cases” of harassment relate to LGBT issues, it is OK to ignore those cases?

    I think not.

    And what about those 15-24 who commit suicide? Are “those people” (LGBT youth) unimportant if they take their own lives due to harassment, bullying, and abuse?

    I think not.

    I NEVER said that AUSD should be “only dealing with LGBT cases of harassment…” (In fact, I endorsed comprehensively dealing with ALL forms of harassment.) But you keep falsely insisting that I wrote, said, and believe otherwise.

    Why are you misrepresenting and misquoting me?

    (Why) “…only at the K-5 level?”

    Because a) it is the earliest and best place to begin teaching respect, tolerance, and acceptance, and b) the current proposal is just the first step in a complete K-12 curriculum, which you would know if you bothered to ask the teachers and administrators who designed the K-5 program.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 5, 2009 @ 1:02 am

  86. No Jon, it is only the 1st step for continued work dealing with only LGBT harassment, it does not adequately address all school harassment.

    And it does so in a way which is overly divisive to the community , and which will have a negative affect on the next AUSD ballot initiative.

    The way it is being handles is showing a lack of honesty in the ways AUSD is relating to the public.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 5, 2009 @ 6:32 am

  87. Are you claiming that only LGBT harassment leads to teen suicide, if not why do you want to continue to not adequately address to other 80% of harassment?

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 5, 2009 @ 6:38 am

  88. 87: Come on Kirwin. This is an amazing logical leap, even by your standards.

    Comment by BC — May 5, 2009 @ 7:26 am

  89. What leap?

    Most harassment is not LGBT related. All studies show far more harrassment on basis of religion, national origion and ethnicity.

    I think all this was explained in earlier posts, too mzany words required to explain again.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 5, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  90. #89 — “All studies”

    David, Please be careful with your statistics. “Some” is not the same as “all.”

    E.g., according to the 2005 “From Teasing to Torment” study by the Gay Lesbian Straight Educators Network (conducted by Harris Interactive): two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression. The top reason was physical appearance.

    That study surveyed 3450 kids, gay and straight, aged 13-18.

    In a second GLSEN study, published in 2007, 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation, 44% reported being physically harassed and 22.1% reported being physically assaulted.

    And check this out:

    “Students whose schools have a policy that includes sexual orientation or gender
    identity/expression are less likely than other students to report a serious harassment problem at
    their school (33% vs. 44%)…Students from schools with an inclusive policy are also more likely to feel very safe at school
    (54% vs. 36%) and one-third as likely to skip a class because they felt uncomfortable or unsafe
    (5% vs. 16%).”

    (You might want to read that again.)

    There’s also this really interesting table on page 22 of that report that shows that students in the survey heard homophobic remarks more often than negative remarks based on religion and race. Sometimes way more often.

    You can find the whole report at:

    http://www.glsen.org/binary-data/GLSEN_ATTACHMENTS/file/499-1.pdf

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 5, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  91. Oops — one thing may be unclear in those quotes. The “policies” to which the report refers are anti-harassment policies — also called anti-bulling policies.

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 5, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  92. Since AUSD already has an inclusive policy, lets get full staff training and a fully inclusive program if there is going to be an added program.

    At the very least AUSD should require sits action to meet the standards in the Safe School Act.
    (listed in post #71, I acknowledge it is a lot of words, but the goal is to provide a safe environment for ALL, not a curriculum for a few.)

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 5, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

  93. Thanks Susan for point out my mistake in post #89. I can not say “all studies”. I think I can include all studies done by the State, and certainly those associated with the Safe Schools Act including the State’s “Healthy Kids Survey.”

    I will say that I would consider any independently audited survey.

    As almost everyone knows, surveys can easily be written to a bias. They can be extremely or subtly biased. Qualified researchers also know how to write unbiased surveys. There are plenty of textbooks written on this topic. I even know some who have coauthored textbooks used in UC research classes. Any time a study is cited it is important to consider the surveys and tests used, if they were done ‘blind’ or ‘double blind’, or if not, were the researchers themselves biased and expecting (subtlety controlling) a preconceived outcome. Was there an outcome which would further their interests? Proper vetting of studies is very important to establishing a level of credibility.

    Thank you for allowing me to point out this important fact by pointing out my error.

    I’d also like to apologize to all readers for letting myself become victim of my own emotions and using this blog to verbally attack those whom I consider illogical, promoting untruths, or deviating from the same moral compass they proudly hold as their beacon. I should have just said what I needed to say without addressing others individually. It was unnecessary regardless of how it felt justified in the moment. To those individuals, I am sorry. I hope that I can prevent myself from repeating such behavior.

    I really and truly believe this K-5 proposal is wrong for our schools and unfair to the overall student population who deserve teachers trained in how to deal with all harassment at all grades. The district as a whole needs to know how to record instances and remedies of and for all reports of harassment; to protect those who report it; but especially help all staff to be able to intervene with comfort (as possible) and confidence that actions they take are ‘Board-Approved’, and District supported. This is especially important at middle and high school where harassment is much more abusive and distracting from the primary purpose of our schools.

    At this moment, I think that I have put as much as I can on to this thread.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 5, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

  94. #93:

    Dave, I deeply appreciate your apology.

    Our corporate inability to respect each others’ views on this thread (and most of us are guilty of at least some infractions here, myself included) seems to support the very real need to reduce adult as well as school-age bullying and harassment, don’t you think?

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 5, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

  95. Yes, but not in the way proposed.

    Comment by dk — May 6, 2009 @ 6:22 am

  96. Due to the phone calls and e-mails of support I have received from other parents and members of AUSD staff I am going to submit 2 more lengthy posts on information I have been provided. They are not for everybody; only for those who are willing to think about what bullying is, it’s root causes in human nature, how it plays roles in US schools, what is really known about it and the best ways to deflate it.

    Most of the first post is written by a member of CSBA (CA School Board Assoc) who is also a staff writer for CA Schools. It provides links for further research including California Safe Schools Coalition (source for AUSD’s LGBT proposal) – “the statewide partnership of organizations and individuals dedicated to eliminating discrimination and harassment on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in California schools.”

    However it also has many other links including the best reached program I have seen – The Safe School Ambassador Program.

    Because it is so well researched, and uses the understanding of human nature, and is tuned to empower school children to deal with ALL forms of bullying, and was designed to include all the facets of full protection which newer CA Laws try to have emulated in the text of the laws, this program is far better for AUSD. It has been used in over a dozen countries.

    While the 2nd lengthy post will be about Safe School Ambassador Program in particular, it is extremely interesting for all the insight about what professionals know from the research that has been done. Clearly clearly clearly; bullying is not an LGBT issue.

    I post the following for those who actually want to be informed about bullying, and the how and why of a successful program to deal with it.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 6, 2009 @ 10:29 pm

  97. About SSA: Research Report
    Literature Review on Bullying and Its Prevention: Implications for the Safe School Ambassadors® Program
    Prepared by OMNI Research and Training, Inc for Community Matters
    November 10, 2004
    This document serves to assess the literature in relation to the core components of the Safe School Ambassador® (SSA) program. The SSA program is a variant of a student watch program (Ross, 1996) that recruits and trains socially influential youth from the different social groups that exist in schools to note and report instances of bullying and other antisocial behavior (Community Matters, 2003). However, SSA is considered a second generation student watch program because a much greater emphasis is placed on training youth bystanders on methods to intervene as warranted by the situation rather than simply noticing and reporting bullying to school staff. The overall goal of the SSA program is to improve the school climate by empowering students who are neither bullies nor victims of bullies, but have a good probability of being a bystander, to play a clear role in preventing episodes of bullying and related activities.
    The aims of this preliminary review of the literature are to:
    • Provide a brief overview of the bullying problem,
    • Establish the importance of utilizing bystanders in the prevention of bullying,
    • Discuss core factors in effective bystander interventions, and
    • Assess the literature for outcomes of bullying prevention programs and bystander interventions.
    General Overview of the Bullying Problem
    Violence as well as the fear of violence is prevalent in U.S. society. Although overall rates of violent crime have declined from their peak in the 1980s, intentional violence still accounts for one-third of all injury deaths (Hamburg, 1998), and violent injury and death continues to disproportionately affect children, adolescents and young adults (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). Over the last several decades, violence has come to be defined as a public health issue and greater public attention has been paid to its prevention, not simply its deterrence and control (Elliot, 1998).
    During the 1980s and increasingly throughout the 1990s, major national initiatives to address youth violence were mounted, including the passage of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1994. Violence also became an established field of research study. Over time, these prevention and research efforts helped define bullying prevention as an important area of violence prevention by drawing attention to the:
    • Cycle of violence in which victimization begets future perpetration
    • Violence prevention needs in the school environment
    • Establishment of a bully prevention program as one of the ten Blueprints for Violence Prevention (Elliot, 2000).
    Today, bullying is considered to be one of the most common and pervasive forms of school violence (Swearer & Doll, 2001). Much of what has been learned to date comes from studies conducted in Scandinavian countries, Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, and Japan (Banks, 1997; Olweus, 1993). An important conclusion drawn from this research is the universality of bullying behaviors (Macklem, 2003). Bullying is a problem in all schools and countries around the world.
    Throughout the 1990s, a number of studies were conducted to understand the prevalence and incidence of bullying. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2004) reported that approximately 50% of all children had been bullied while in school and that 10% of those that had been bullied were victimized on a regular basis. A subsequent study, representing the first nationwide research on bullying in the U.S., was conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Development. This study found that in grades sixth through tenth, 16% of students indicated that others had bullied them during the current term. Almost 30% reported that they had been involved as a bully, a victim, or both (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, and Scheidt, 2001). Ericson (2001) used these data to estimate that 1.6 million students in these grades were bullied at least once a week. Moreover, based on the original study, the National Institute of Child Health and Development found that bullying behaviors were a marker for involvement in future violence-related behaviors. In fact, it reported that children and youth that engaged in bullying behaviors were the group most at risk for engaging in violent behaviors over time (Nansel, T.R., Overpeck, M.,D., Haynie, D.L., Ruan, W.J., & Scheidt , 2003).
    Importance of Utilizing Bystanders for Bullying Prevention
    Peers are present in 85% of bullying episodes in school settings (Bonds & Stoker, 2003, Craig & Pepler, 1995) and up to 92% of elementary school students have observed instances of bullying in their schools (Henderson & Hymel, 2002, as cited in Macklem, 2003). Because bystanders are almost always present whereas adults rarely witness bullying, their participation in school-based bullying programs is considered instrumental. Researchers using a variety of data collection methods, including unobtrusive observation, describe various roles that bystanders may take in a bullying episode (Craig & Pepler, 2000; Cowie & Wallace, 2000; O’Connell, Pepler, & Craig 1999; Salmivalli, 1999). These include:
    • Becoming an assistant of the bully,
    • Defending the victim, or
    • Remaining an outsider.
    Bystanders can reinforce the bully by laughing or cheering on behavior. They can also pretend not to notice what is going on but often are described by the victim as cooperating with the bully because of their nonverbal behavior (Macklem, 2003).
    While over half of surveyed children reported that they would intervene in a hypothetical bullying situation, their reports do not match with observed playground behavior (O’Connell, Pepler, & Craig, 1999). Actual intervention occurred by bystanders on average in about 11% of the bullying episodes (Craig & Pepler, 1997). In a study conducted by O’Connell, Pepler, and Craig (1999) 54% of the time children (ages 5-12) passively watched a bullying dynamic, 21% of the time joined in on bullying, and 25% of the time intervened on behalf of the victim. Older children are less likely to report intervening and more likely to report encouraging a bully than younger children (Jeffrey, Miller, & Linn, 2001; Rigby & Slee, 1992).
    According to Lazarus (2001), bystanders may not report abuse because they:
    • Do not recognize behavior as bullying
    • Fear getting a friend in trouble
    • Fear alienation
    • Fear retaliation
    • Believe that adults will not help
    Moreover, Khosropour and Walsh (2000) found that bystanders prioritized the intentions of the bully over the victim’s feelings even after a bully prevention program that taught the opposing lesson. Over 50% of sixth and seventh graders felt that the victim could control the reason for being mistreated and many bystanders believed that the victim would learn something from the encounter. In addition to blaming the victim, Sutton and Keogh (2000) showed that students who seek to be accepted by a social group that supports bullying are less willing to become involved or take action.
    Prevention of bullying is further undermined by the fact that there is a strong taboo among students against informing school staff when episodes of bullying occur (Crary, 2001 as cited in Macklem 2003). Many students report concerns that they would not be protected in unsupervised areas of the school (Suderman, Jaffe, & Schiek, 1996 as cited in Macklem 2003). Some bystanders also feel relieved when they are not a target and often distance themselves from the victim, reducing empathy and making it easier to walk away from the situation.
    As bullying-prevention in schools begin to place greater emphasis on encouraging bystanders during episodes of bullying to intervene rather than simply report, empowering students to act becomes an important focal point. In addition to addressing the barriers described above, giving youth the knowledge and skills for effective behaviors to engage in as well as providing a network of support from peers and school staff is critical (Garrity, Jens, Porter, Sager, Short-Camilli, 1994).
    Core Factors in Effective Bystander Interventions
    Group Processes that Facilitate Bullying
    Children are highly motivated by the need to belong. Social groups start forming as early as the preschool years. During this period, children may be excluded from groups because often the inclusion of a new member causes deterioration in play. For example, two children who are playing a make-believe setting and are interrupted by a third ‘outsider’ may lose focus of what they were doing and that particular play activity may come to an end. According to Macklem (2003), children learn early on that they can exclude others and use the concept of ‘friend’ to control play activity.
    By elementary school children are still largely motivated by wanting to belong, and many peer groups become established by third grade. Children are now forced to find their place using social power. Social groups have established rules of how children are supposed to act to be accepted by a particular group. This includes how aggression is expressed, which accounts for the finding that aggressive children hang out and play with other aggressive children (Cairns & Cairns, 1991). These norms are often established by the most popular child in the group; the child with the most social power. However, being popular is not the same as having many friends. While having the ability to establish and maintain friendships is associated with social competence and prosocial behaviors, popularity tends to be associated with dominance, aggression, and power (LaFontana & Cillessen, 2002). By fifth grade, both boys and girls will choose popularity over friendship and will reject a ‘friend’ to be accepted by a group (Macklem, 2003).
    Because social groups have a hierarchy, the child with the most social power has tremendous influence on the behavior of the other members and determines the status of others in the group. Macklem (2003) describes these group dynamics as follows:
    “The leader or leaders of cliques use their popularity to control the group. Clique leaders may manipulate and rearrange the hierarchy by extending favor on a particular child who is lower in the hierarchy. Leaders hang on to their power by manipulating the feelings and status of other children. Leaders also manipulate clique members into bullying others, and then withdraw themselves so that others take the blame” (pp. 110-111).
    Macklem (2003) further describes that by fourth or fifth grade, students in schools with greater than 80 individuals per grade are often split into four groups. The popular group makes up approximately one third of all students in any given grade level. This group drives the school climate, and is motivated to protect their power. There may be a select group of leaders within the popular circle that determine the ever-changing status of the followers. The next group, the ‘wannabes’, makes up about 10% of students in a grade level. These are students who have their own small group of friends, but would prefer to be in the popular group. The third group includes about 50% of the students of a class that is made up of a middle group of students who mostly operate on their own. These students are generally accepting of others, but do not wish to be a part of the popular clique, and are also critical of the wannabes. The remaining 10% of the class is made up of isolated children. These children lack support, and even tend to reject one another.
    Based on research conducted by Adler and Adler (1998), by late elementary school, students have a strong sense of:
    • Social status based on power and popularity,
    • Pressures to conform to group norms, and
    • Consequences that result from going against group norms.
    During middle school, the social hierarchy is still rooted in popularity. Although popular peers may not necessarily be well-liked, their influence on members within the group remains. They effectively use both positive and negative behaviors to achieve their desired goals and often are controlling and manipulate others. According to Macklem (2003):
    “Social groups among adolescents have gate-keeping regulations which assure that new members are selected because they are similar to others who already belong to the group. The group helps the individual student establish identity and helps meet the individual’s need to belong, but at the same time the group controls the student’s behavior, particularly the expression of aggression… Students move up and down in status within the larger group, but do not change from one large group to another. Once a new member of the group is allowed to participate, further socialization takes place. Students learn the values of the group and take on the social problems of the group.” (p. 113).
    Since peers reinforce the harmful group dynamic of antisocial perpetration, intervention must incorporate the youth network (Macklem, 2003). For this reason, effective bystander intervention programs must focus recruitment strategies to select influential members that cut across the social groups and cliques that exist is school settings. However, the difference between ‘tattle telling’ and prosocial behavior must be taught and reinforced by peer networks. Since social pressures dictate a tacit response, student participants need regular and ongoing support.
    Involvement of Influential Youth
    Social groups in middle and high schools commonly referred to as cliques, have sophisticated hierarchies. According to Greener (2000), popular children are more prosocial than other children. Leader(s) of cliques use their popularity, often maintained by prosocial behavior, to control the social group. Popular students may also manipulate others to bully particular students. The dynamics and hierarchies of these cliques are fluid; social status can be manipulated by leaders who work hard to maintain their heightened social status. Students who are eager for acceptance do not stand up to bullies. If a group does not support intervening in a bullying situation, these students hesitate to aid bully victims (Sutton & Keogh, 2000).
    According to a study by Ginsburg and Miller (1981), the small number of boys who intervened in playground fights were children who held high social status among their peers. Similarly, studies have found that group leaders or children well-liked by their classmates were more likely to self-report intervening in a potential bullying episode (Salmivalli, Lagerspetz, Bjorkqvist, Osterman, & Kaukiannien, 1996). Research on modeling and social influence shows that greater impact is achieved by individuals that are well-liked and who have high social status (Bandura, 1977; Petty & Cacioppo, 1981). These studies suggest that children with social influence are more likely to intervene on behalf of a victim. These influential children, already more prosocial than other children, are an untapped resource for modeling appropriate bystander intervention. These leaders may influence their peers who are seeking acceptance to stand up bullies or include marginalized youth. Therefore training students who have been identified as leaders to intervene may be the most efficient and successful means to increase bystander intervention.
    Because modeling prosocial behavior is a major function of bystander intervention programs, the characteristics of individual members and the groups that they represent are quite important.
    The relationship between prosocial youth and popularity may also encourage students to become involved in programs such as the SSA programs. In other words, youth may be motivated to enhance their prosocial skills and help bullying victims if they felt these skills might maintain or enhance their popularity.
    Empathy-building
    To mobilize bystanders to intervene on behalf of a victim, youth must feel empathy toward victims and guilt for not intervening (Eisenberg & Miller, 1987). Can prosocial behavior be trained? Hoffman (1984) reports that there is modest evidence that practice in role taking in a noncompetitive context can teach prosocial behavior. Similar studies found that empathy trained children displayed more prosocial behaviors than that of the control group (Feshbach, 1982). However, the literature concludes that children respond more empathetically to children of the same race (Hoffman 1982, 1984). Moreover, empathy is mediated by gender. Boys are more likely to feel sympathy for females than males (Pellegrini & Long, 2002).
    Empathy is undermined by strong social and cultural norms concerning the attribution of blame to victims in social situations (Brigham, 1991). If a bystander believes the victim caused the perpetration, then empathetic discomfort is reduced and often replaced by anger. Victims with bad reputations (immoral, deceitful, etc.) are often seen as deserving maltreatment. The most compassionate student may not feel empathy, and therefore intervene, if the victim can be blamed.
    While students may benefit from empathy training, they also need to be taught to recognize bullying, feel concerned about this behavior, and avoid blaming the victim. According to a U.K. study, 50% of students reported sympathy for victims, 25% were neutral, and 25% reported no sympathy (Macklem, 2003; Smith & Sharp, 1994). Jeffrey, Miller, and Linn (2001) reported that 9% of students did not care about the victim and 36% did not care about bullying episodes. Apathy appears to increase with age, especially among boys, as myths about victims are perpetuated and maintained. By grade eight, two times as many boys as girls reported victims deserved being bullied. Over 50% of sixth and seventh graders felt that the victim could control the reason for being mistreated. Bystanders who blame the victim can also feel anger toward the victim.
    School-wide Intervention
    In addition to educating students, teachers need to be aware of their own misconceptions and reinforcing behaviors. One study of elementary school students found that adults ignored 71% of bullying episodes (Froschl & Gropper 1999). Ignoring adults believed that children should learn to handle their problems when in reality bullying involves an imbalance and abuse of power that cannot be solved by the victim alone (Garrity et al., 1994). When asked why victims and bystanders do not report the maltreatment, victims reported fearing that school personnel will not handle the event appropriately (Macklem, 2003) while bystanders believed that the adults would not help (Lazarus, 2001).
    In addition to peer support, strong relationships with trusted adults are important for empowering bystanders to report bullying. School personnel must be trained and made available for support. It is essential that students know and feel that this support is available. If students feel that teachers don’t care about maltreatment (even if teachers have been trained to avoid reinforcing bullying behavior), then even prosocial students may feel uncomfortable enlisting help from adults in more serious bullying episodes. Students cannot and should not handle all bullying episodes alone. Positive rapport and relationships between teachers and students must be established for bystander intervention participants to successfully intervene on behalf of victims. Concern about student’s welfare and the danger of antisocial behaviors must be palpable in the school climate. Dedicated and trained peers will fail without adequate support from school personnel, ongoing support from peers, and an overall change of the school climate.
    School-wide interventions that are designed to change school climate are needed to change normative responses to bullying behaviors. According to Macklem (2003), prevention efforts should incorporate the following elements:
    • Provide accurate information regarding bullying and the attitudes of peers about bullying to dispel myths and minimizes misconceptions about bullying behavior, victims, and tacit compliance
    • Re-sensitize peers to bullying behavior. This includes learning to recognize bullying and differentiating bullying behavior from innocuous banter.
    • Promote empathy and healthy guilt.
    • Reinforce helping behavior and distinguish between reporting behavior as opposed “tattle telling”.
    Outcomes of Bullying Prevention Programs and Bystander Interventions
    Prompted by three suicides attributed to bullying, the National Campaign Against Bullying headed by Dan Olweus and Erling Roland was implemented in Norway in 1983 and resulted in a 50% reduction in bullying episodes and fewer new victims in Bergen schools at one year follow up (Ross, 1996). In addition to a reduction in episodes of bullying, there was a change in the school climate and a reduction of bullying in the greater community. Subsequent evaluations of the Olweus program in other countries have also found positive results, but to a much lesser degree than the original 50% reduction (Elliot, 2000).
    Two other major bully prevention programs that used core components of the Olweus Bully Prevention Program, known as the Sheffield and Safe Cities projects, found positive results with an average reduction of about 15% (Macklem, 2003). Although Olweus original evaluation results pointed to a dramatic reduction in bullying, others have had much less success, with some programs reporting negative results (Macklem, 2003; Ross, 1996). However, Olweus and other researchers have concluded that these wide differences in outcomes are largely due to poor program planning and implementation of individual programs (Macklem, 2003). For example, Olweus provided a high level of support to the Bergen schools, which increased program implementation fidelity that resulted in greater reduction in bullying (Smith et al., 1999). Moreover, the evaluation results as a whole emphasize the importance of utilizing a multi-pronged in bullying prevention (Macklem, 2003; Olweus, 1991).
    While traditional programs that target instances of bullying tended to only focus on the bully-victim dyad and not the social process of bullying, most researchers conclude that the effectiveness of programs can be greatly enhanced using a whole school approach (Macklem, 2003; Olweus, 1994). These researchers argue that approaches that focus only on identified victims and bullies underestimate the incidence of bullying, place undue pressure on the victim to solve the problem, and perpetuate myths about bullying and negative attitudes concerning victims. An approach that includes all students and incorporates adults increases the likelihood that an enduring change in overall school climate will occur over time. To improve bully reduction rates from the average 15% reported in work conducted since Olweus original evaluation work, researchers need more innovative strategies. One such innovation is incorporating an understanding of group dynamics into program development. Currently, researchers are encouraging the mobilization of bystanders to reduce school bullying (Macklem, 2003; Smith, Twemlow & Hoover 1999; Salmivalli, 1999).
    Macklem (2003) concludes that most researchers feel that soliciting help from bystanders is the key variable in decreasing bullying. For example, Dr. Ronald Slaby has demonstrated that bystanders can be effective agents for resolving conflicts and preventing future cruelty and violence in school settings (Slaby & Roedell, 1982; Slaby & Guerra, 1988). However, much less is known about the individual- and school-level outcomes that are realized from bystander intervention programs such as SSA. Although peer interventions in general have been established as effective in many domains (Deck & Einspruch, 1999), little empirical evidence has linked bystander intervention programs to specific bullying-related outcomes. At the same time, a meta-analysis of 143 drug prevention programs conducted by Tobler (1986) showed that school-based bystander interventions can be quite effective in reducing substance use and abuse among youth. Because there are a number of similarities between many of these drug prevention programs and bystander intervention programs, these results are encouraging.
    The SafePlace: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survival Center that developed the Expect Respect school-based program to address sexual and domestic violence state in their handbook that “ of greatest significance was the impact of the project on increasing students’ willingness to intervene to help a target of bullying and to seek help from an adult on campus”. According to Macklem (2003), evaluation of the Expect Respect Program found an increase of awareness about bullying, knowledge of sexual harassment, and positive attitudes toward helping peers. The change of bystander behavior appears vital to program developers from diverse disciplines in changing school climate and reducing a variety of antisocial behaviors.
    Within the field of school-based bully prevention, Maher (1987) provides a good example of the effective use of a student watch program in a New York high school and reported that antisocial behavior had decreased and overall school climate increased as a result of the program. Specifically, Maher (1987) and others argue that these programs help to break down the code of silence that protects the antisocial, by presenting “telling on” as positive manner. Equally important, though one might feel that the potential for negative stigmatization for student members is high, Maher (1987) showed that because membership was presented as a high status activity, this did not occur. Additionally, to the extent that these programs effectively recruit socially influential youth from a broad section of the student body, the possibility of retributions or reprisals are greatly diminished.
    Similar to Maher’s student watch program, peer support programs have recently been developed to include students in monitoring peer behavior. In addition to monitoring, these programs also encourage and teach students to play an active role in changing relationships and group dynamics. Cowie (2000) and colleagues have found that programs that focus on students’ social interactions through encouraging peers to befriend others, teaching conflict resolution skills, and supporting informal counseling-based approaches, help protect victims and increase prosocial attitudes and behaviors.
    M enesini, Codecasa, Benelli and Cowie (2003) recently published a study that tested the peer support model and reported promising results in two Italian middle schools. The curriculum for this program included promoting awareness in bullies of their and others’ behavior(s), enhancing the ability to support victims (befriending by peers), encouraging responsibility and involvement of bystanders, and improving the quality of interpersonal relationships. This peer support model resulted in negative attitudes and behaviors to remain stable in students who received the intervention while these factors increased in a control group. Moreover, feelings of support for the victim decreased in the control group and remained stable in the experimental group. The preliminary findings of this research suggests that the implementation of a peer support and intervention model in the middle schools years, when rates of bullying have been shown to increase, is an effective bullying prevention strategy. Since a number of components of the Italian intervention are similar to the SSA program, the results provide good support for the underlying model upon which SSA is based. The authors in the Italian study believed that their short-term intervention broke the code of silence, enhanced responsibility, and promoted empathy among students at an age with a heightened risk for bullying behaviors.
    Because the idea of empowering bystanders to intervene rather than monitor and report is relatively new, the outcomes associated with this approach is quite limited. However, much more is known about the deleterious effects of bullying on both victims as well as bystanders. For victims of bullying, fear can become so ingrained that they adopt fugitive-like routines to avoid places likely to be frequented by the bully (Macklem, 2003). This avoidance deprives the target of essential formal and informal social experiences that are important for social development (Ross, 1996). Victims also can experience active rejection ( Perry, Kusel, & Perry, 1 988) by peers who formerly were friends or at least friendly toward them. This climate of fear from chronic bullying coupled with peer rejection leads to poor school performance among victims (Turkel & Eth, 1997). For example, Hazler, Hoover, & Oliver (1993) reported a significant drop in grades for 90% of the victims of bullying in their study. Overall, victims can be caught in downward spiral leading to:
    • Low morale and acute despair manifested in truancy (Reid, 1990).
    • Chronic illness such as recurrent abdominal pain of unknown origin (Ross & Ross, 1988).
    • Running away, and in extreme cases, suicide (Beck, 1986; Besag, 1989; Elliot, 1991).
    Equally important is research that shows that bystanders, who are neither bullies, nor target of bullies, are negatively impacted by witnessing episodes of bullying (Ross, 1996). Ross (1996) reports that bystanders can be affected by bullying in the following ways:
    • Anger and feeling helpless at not knowing how to help victim.
    • Guilt for not intervening.
    • Worry that they might be the next target.
    Furthermore, Ross (1996) argues that when bullying is witnessed by others and goes unpunished, it can create a climate of fear with widespread effects that:
    • Inhibits learning and is a major distraction
    • Undermines enjoyment of free-time periods.
    • Creates fear of certain areas of school such as lunchroom.
    • Elevates the sense of vulnerability on the way to and from school.
    Because school environments that are characterized by a high incidence of episodes of bullying clearly undermine the learning process for all students, improved academic achievement is an important medium-term outcome to expect from implementation of an effective prevention program.
    Conclusion
    The SSA bystander intervention program includes many core components that are thought to be effective in promoting a positive school climate and reducing individual incidents of bullying. Specifically, the use of bystanders and the guidance provided on recruitment strategies are consistent with recent discussions on effective bullying interventions provided in the literature.
    One challenge of implementing and evaluating bully prevention programs is the finding that bullying is not evenly distributed over schools (Ross, 1996). Some schools have higher or lower rates of bullying; therefore a program with one narrow focus will not be effective for every school. The need for a multi-faceted approach is supported by the work of Olweus (Macklem, 2003). Comprehensive programs that intervene on different levels and can be adapted to the needs of the individual school may be more successful in reducing antisocial behaviors and victimization. This applies to the Safe School Ambassador program in that the program includes several opportunities of prevention and intervention. During a bullying episode, the leader may intervene as a bystander by defending the victim, distracting member(s) of dyads, or diffusing the situation through other social techniques. This immediate response may reduce escalation of a teasing or bullying episode to something more violent. The immediate response may also model prosocial behavior for other bystanders, diffuse the power of the bully, and support the victim. In this way, the effect of the leader can transcend beyond the immediate episode to influencing other peers, changing the classroom, and hopefully the overall school climate. Building trust with teachers and staff personnel allows students leaders to solicit support from teachers when they do not feel safe handling situations alone and introduces another opportunity to impact the school environment. The literature on successful outcomes of comprehensive programs supports the multidimensional approach of the Safe School Ambassador program.
    While the SSA program addresses a number of important antecedents and outcomes associated with bullying, its overall effectiveness is somewhat dependent on the extent to which a participating school is part of a more comprehensive and district-wide bullying prevention strategy in place. The literature underscores the fact that the social dynamics that lead to bullying need to be addressed very early on in the developmental process (Boxer & Dubow). Because SSA is designed for middle and high school youth, the effectiveness of the SSA program will be greatly improved by districts and communities that have early education and elementary school bullying prevention programs in place. Additionally, complementing the SSA program with programs and activities that impact other aspects of the school environment should result in stronger outcomes. Examples include school staff awareness training and school-wide student sensitization to the problem of bullying.
    Because empowering students to intervene during episodes of bullying is a relatively new approach, there is currently a lack of empirical evidence linking positive outcomes to these types of interventions. However, the experts in the field appear to be encouraging the use of these bystander interventions and preliminary evaluation results are encouraging. Ongoing comprehensive evaluation is needed for all violence prevention programs to determine the best practices for keeping children safe and facilitating the learning process.
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    Comment by David Kirwin — May 6, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

  98. Post 97 was supposed to be the 2nd long post, next is what was supposed to precede it.

    Due to length, printing may enhance readability of posts 97 & 99, ot least copying into WORD to re-scale. It is very good info.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 6, 2009 @ 11:27 pm

  99. Marsha Boutelle (mboutelle@csba. org) is a staff writer for California Schools.
    Fight back against bullying
    PUBLISHED: MARCH 31, 2009
    Here are some tools schools can use to counteract the bullies in their midst:
    Safe School Ambassadors
    w ww.safeschoolambassadors.org
    An eight-year-old program run by the Santa Rosa-based Community Matters. To date, 800 schools in 26 states have made use of Safe School Ambassadors, says the nonprofit organization’s founder, Rick Phillips. The program identifies students in grades 4–12 who are leaders in their social circles and then trains them in constructive ways to prevent cruelty and violence.
    Safe & Civil Schools
    w ww.safeandcivilschools.com/index.php
    Through programs and staff development services, helps K–12 educators develop better behavior management strategies, learn effective classroom management procedures and implement schoolwide positive behavior support and appropriate interventions for behavior.
    California Department of Education
    w ww.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/bullyres.asp
    Publications and resources for educators, parents and community members, with tools for recognizing bullying behavior and approaches for determining how to respond.
    Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
    w ww.clemson.edu/olweus
    A comprehensive, schoolwide program designed for use in elementary, middle or junior high schools. Its goals are to reduce and prevent bullying problems among schoolchildren and to improve peer relations at school. The program has been reported to reduce bullying among children, improve the social climate of classrooms and reduce related antisocial behaviors such as vandalism and truancy. The program has been implemented in more than a dozen countries around the world.
    Bully Police USA
    w ww.bullypolice.org
    A watchdog organization advocating for bullied children and reporting on state anti-bullying laws.
    Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California
    w ww.fightcrime.org/ca/caissue_troubled.php
    A bipartisan, nonprofit, anti-crime organization led by more than 350 sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys and violence survivors. It is part of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national nonprofit organization representing over 3,000 law enforcement leaders and violence survivors, based in Washington, D.C.
    Eyes on Bullying
    w ww.eyesonbullying.org/index.html
    Site provides a downloadable, 43-page toolkit for dealing with bullying issues for educators, parents and other stakeholders, along with additional resources and strategies to help create a bully-free environment.
    California Safe Schools Coalition
    w ww.casafeschools.org/20040112.html
    A statewide partnership of organizations and individuals dedicated to eliminating discrimination and harassment on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in California schools.
    —Marsha Boutelle

    Bullying FAQs
    PUBLISHED: MARCH 31, 2009
    Q. What is school bullying?
    A. Bullying occurs when a person is subjected to abusive actions repeatedly over time. Bullying may be direct or indirect. Direct bullying can include hitting, tripping, verbal threats, name calling, racial slurs, insults, demanding money or property, stabbing, choking, burning and shooting. Indirect bullying may be less obvious, but it can include rejecting, isolating or excluding someone, humiliating someone or manipulating relationships, sending hurtful or threatening e-mail or notes, blackmailing or posing dangerous dares, and taunting, degrading or otherwise humiliating a target on a Web site.
    Q. Do both boys and girls bully?
    A. Yes. Boys tend to be more direct and aggressive, while girls typically bully in more indirect ways. But both boys and girls are capable of using both direct and indirect methods.
    Q. What are the consequences of bullying?
    A. A target of bullying can feel persecuted and fearful. Feelings of anger, anxiety and frustration can lead to mood swings, withdrawal from family and friends, an inability to concentrate, even depression. Students who fear bullying can develop poor school attendance or discipline problems or even become bullies themselves. In more severe situations, targets may become violent or suicidal.
    Bullies who do not experience intervention or appropriate support are likely to engage in other antisocial or even criminal behavior. Research from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a program of the U.S. Department of Justice, shows that 60 percent of males who bully in grades 6–9 are convicted of at least one crime as adults, compared with 23 percent of males who did not bully.
    Bystanders to bullying events may come to believe that bullying is inevitable and acceptable—a rite of passage—and that adults are powerless to prevent it. Some bystanders may join in with the bully; others fear becoming a target themselves.
    Q. What can schools do about bullying?
    A. There are many programs that aim to stop bullying; however, philosophical and practical differences exist among them as to how best to approach this all-too-common problem. One major dispute concerns whether to empower students to interact with bullies on behalf of a student who is being victimized: Some plans agree with this approach and laud it as critical, while others disagree and think adults (teachers, administrators and others) are the appropriate responders. Administrators and school board members should conduct careful research and take into account their particular set of circumstances before deciding what methodology is likely to work best for their schools.
    Class Acts: District creates ‘a culture of respect’ to honor diversity
    PUBLISHED: MARCH 31, 2009
    “In the fall of 2004, a restive and ethnically diverse group of parents, teachers, administrators, board members, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and a sprinkling of Nation of Islam security personnel convened in a hurriedly arranged town hall-type meeting in the boardroom of the William S. Hart Union High School District in Santa Clarita. Emotions were running high.
    “A vocal group of parents, mostly African American but bolstered by several Jewish parents and rabbis, had gathered to charge the district with ‘racial insensitivity,’ saying the district had been unresponsive to complaints from black, Latino and Jewish students and parents,” says Greg Lee. Already on the district staff at the time, Lee was eventually chosen to head up a plan to address the contentious situation and named Hart’s diversity coordinator.
    Positive results came out of that tense meeting. An ad hoc committee of students, parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers and school board members researched race relations and developed recommendations that led to the creation of a Diversity Action Plan, which triggered a Diversity Initiative. The initiative, in turn, generated a districtwide plan to “establish a culture of respect, where equity and inclusion are highly valued, and where diversity is seen as an asset and not a liability.”
    Fast forward more than four years to a successful program that has spread beyond Hart to other Los Angeles County districts. Formal recognition came when CSBA acknowledged the Hart District Diversity Initiative’s accomplishments with a Golden Bell award in the school safety category at its 2008 Annual Education Conference in San Diego.
    “I don’t think we had a clear idea of what kind of program we were going to have” initially, Lee says now. “It was most important to show good faith to the community by having someone at the switch, at the district office, to respond to parent concerns, but also to ensure that their voices were being heard at the [school] sites. Some of our first activities included training staff about cultural proficiency, but we also realized that we needed to quickly reach out to students and begin helping them have meaningful conversations about topics like race, inclusion and an acceptance of diversity as a strength and not a liability.”
    Roles for students, parents, teachers
    The program consists of seven components: general recommendations; training; policies and procedures; student support; community involvement; personnel; and curriculum and instruction. As the district coordinator, Lee is responsible for identifying and designing activities that enable district personnel to better advance equity, inclusion, diversity awareness and appreciation.
    Students, families and teachers all have a role to play in making the program work.
    For students, two days of intensive training qualify them to take an active part in monitoring and correcting antisocial behavior through the Safe School Ambassadors program (see ”We’re Not Gonna Take It,” page 26).
    “They learn to intervene in very specific types of misbehavior,” Lee says. “Students are trained by and practice with coordinators before going out to sites” to work with younger students.
    “Typically, if you ask the students to step up, to set realistic parameters, they do their best to live up to your expectations.”
    For parents, there are Action Team Partnerships, site-based groups that also include teachers and administrators who work to increase cooperative participation.
    “The goal is to take family involvement beyond helping with bake sales and chaperoning at dances. It’s more about bringing families onto campuses by offering services and venues, such as Open Library Nights, Family Movie Nights, the Principal’s Tea, and academic refresher courses for parents, so they can help their kids with homework,” Lee says. “Some ATPs are also taking school services into the community, by holding meetings off campus and out at local venues like churches, community centers and homeowners association lounges.”
    Lee praises teachers with working hard to achieve the program’s goals.
    “Our student-awareness programs have all benefited from—and thrived—because of staff leadership,” he says. “When we began the Safe School Ambassadors program, we were paying the staff of SSA to train us and the students. But then we realized that we had the expertise and compassion among our own teachers to do our own training. We purchased the rights to the program and asked the company to come train our trainers. [SSA was] very supportive of us, and it has all worked out well.”
    —Marsha Boutelle

    gonna take it
    Breaking the cycle of bullying
    BY: MARSHA BOUTELLE PUBLISHED: MARCH 31, 2009
    In the coastal community of Oxnard, surrounded by his classmates and teacher, Brandon McInerney, 14, rises from his desk, draws a gun and kills 15-year-old Lawrence King, an openly gay boy.
    In the mountain town of Acton, about 80 miles northeast of Oxnard, Jeremiah Lasater, 14, fatally shoots himself in the boys bathroom at his high school. The 6-foot-6-inch, nearly 300-pound freshman football player had been taunted about his size throughout his school years. “It was constant,” a former teacher says of Jeremiah’s plight. “It was a daily verbal assault.”
    In New York City, 12-year-old Maria Herrera hangs herself in a closet at home after what her mother described as relentless school bullying. “They used to beat her up; they used to harass her, curse at her, call her ‘train tracks’ because she had braces; they used to cut her hair,” according to the girl’s mother.
    The common denominator in these tragic deaths: bullies.
    True, not all tormented children commit suicide. But tens of thousands suffer every day as the result of a classmate’s verbal, physical or electronic abuse. Student bullying is one of the most frequently reported discipline problems in K–12 education: 21 percent of elementary schools, 43 percent of middle schools and 22 percent of high schools reported such harassment nationwide in 2005–06, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
    “Numbers about bullying are consistent not just across the United States but [across] the world,” says Scott Modell, a professor at California State University, Sacramento, and director of Project SAFE, the Safe and Accepting for Everyone plan adopted by Fresno Unified School District this year. “The numbers are not increasing, just as they are not decreasing. We are, however, becoming more aware of the issue and the need to combat it.”
    The California Education Code has long had a number of sections that address school violence, including student bullying. And on Jan. 1 of this year, Assembly Bill 86 became law and added “teeth,” as one superintendent puts it, to the Ed Code by giving schools a legal right to punish bullies through suspension or even expulsion—punishment many had meted out in the past, law or no law. The new regulation also recognizes the rise of cyberbullying and bans this new twist on earlier intimidation techniques. Cyberbullying takes place via nasty messages on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, on cell phones and in text messages.
    A research perspective
    The notion that bullying is a childhood rite of passage is disputed by educators and psychologists.
    “That idea is a misconception and a common belief that is so hurtful to victims of bullying,” says Jaana Juvonen, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. The Swedish academician Dan Olweus is the father of bullying research, according to Juvonen. “He defines it as an imbalance of power, intentionally caused. The perpetrators usually say, ‘Well, I didn’t mean to.’ But we need to listen to the victims. They are usually kids who are suffering in silence and who do not retaliate or tell anyone about it.”
    The issue is widespread and not easily resolved. Close to one-fourth of California students are involved in bullying, either as bullies, victims or both, Juvonen says. It can be confusing for teachers and administrators in school districts and county offices of education to decide what to do about the problem; there are different schools of thought and programs to choose from.
    From her years as a researcher, Juvonen offers the following advice.
    “The biggest problem schools have trying to address bullying is that they focus on individual students when they really need to focus on groups,” she says. “At any one time, 70 percent of kids are acting as bystanders [during a bullying event]. They may hear about it or see something happening, and yet they don’t respond. But if kids intervene, the bullying stops right away. Peer power is significant and can be the resolution to the problem. … The important thing to do is to change the peer culture of the school.”
    Juvonen adds that schools need to be very selective when choosing a program to fight bullying.
    “Unless people in positions of power really understand what the biggest challenges are,” she says, “we may be wasting a lot of money. We want to adopt a program that not only sounds right but where there is some sound research that supports that it actually can work.
    “No. 1: Show me the program evaluations. I’m not so picky about who does them as to how they are done. There should be hard-core data, not anecdotal information. No. 2: What are the premises of the program? Why and how is it supposed to work? Does it involve bystanders? Bystanders are the key to changing the culture.”
    Change the culture, stop the bully
    The Safe School Ambassadors program exists as a sort of testament to Juvonen’s ideas, even though she is not affiliated with it.
    SSA was developed by Rick Phillips, executive director of Santa Rosa-based Community Matters, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote positive youth development. In its nine years of existence, SSA is said to have changed cultures for the better in 800 K–12 schools across 26 states.
    Phillips spent a considerable amount of time observing the effects of school bullying.
    “During almost 20 years of being in the trenches as a teacher and principal, I frequently witnessed how kids can be mean to each other,” Phillips says. “The effect is traumatic: Who can thrive [at school] when you’re distracted by anxiety, fear or anger?
    “What I also noticed was that most kids, when they saw [students being bullied], didn’t speak up or intervene. It seemed to me such a vitally important part in a democracy for citizens—young and old—to speak up for each other. I wanted to do something to mobilize young people’s courage to speak up.”
    Phillips defines four tenets of the SSA program:
    Students see, hear and know things that adults don’t.
    1. Students can intervene in ways adults can’t.
    2. Students are often on the scene of an incident before an adult knows about it.
    3. While adults make school rules, young people make the rules about whether or not it is “cool” to speak up for someone else who is being bullied.

    At the 2008 CSBA Annual Education Conference and Trade Show in San Diego, Phillips co-presented a workshop on reducing bullying and violence in schools with Greg Lee, the diversity coordinator at the William S. Hart Union High School District in Santa Clarita. The Hart District Diversity Initiative Program won a CSBA Golden Bell award last year in the School Safety category (see related story on page 13).
    Hart has been tracking bias-motivated incidents since 2006. Officials in the grade 7–12 district have been noting trends in bullying by gender, grade and ethnic group, and even at certain times of year.
    “We have not experienced an increase in bullying; rather, we have seen a significant decrease based on cultural, racial, religious or gender-orientation motivations,” says Lee.
    “The Safe School Ambassadors program has played a pivotal role in reducing the number of bullying incidents . SSA trains students over two full days to recognize and intervene in various forms of bullying, including exclusion, put-downs, intimidation, physical contact and acts against the campus such as vandalism and graffiti.
    “The beauty of the program is that the vast majority of interventions performed by ambassadors go largely unnoticed by staff and most other students,” Lee adds. “But sometimes the interventions are spectacular. At one of our schools, in its first few weeks of operation, ambassadors disbanded a suicide pact.”
    It’s hard to argue with that kind of success. But what about the safety of students who intervene on someone else’s behalf? Aren’t they putting themselves in danger?
    Phillips says no.
    “In nine years and over 40,000 kids we’ve trained, there has never been a problem for them to intervene with people they already know,” he says. “That’s where you’re going to be safe and effective. The premise is that we create ambassadors within the different cliques at the school. In each clique, we have one or two people who are in the ‘leadership’ position already. Over time—not overnight—we begin to see positive change.
    “But we don’t profess to be ‘it,’ ” Phillips
    adds. “We are one of many efforts to help and empower kids.”
    The ‘whole-school’ approach
    Project SAFE’s Modell is also an advocate for changing school culture—but with a twist.
    “Changing a campus culture is complex,” Modell says. “We focus on the whole-school approach, which requires all stakeholders—students, teachers, administrators, parents, community members—to be involved in the process and to assist in creating and maintaining a culture that does not condone bullying, sexual harassment or molestation. [We do this] by increasing awareness of the issues, teaching empathy, building skills to confront and change, and ultimately empowering all to actively prevent and reduce these issues. Examples of this process may include changes in policies, specific teacher training, development of classroom activities for students, an increase in supervision, and informing and involving parents.”
    Project SAFE’s methodology and results will be closely monitored by educators statewide and the media as it works over the next five years to create a lasting and effective anti-bullying program at Fresno Unified. The district is the fourth-largest in the state, with nearly 74,000 students and 106 campuses.
    Fresno Superintendent Michael Hanson and the school board “wanted to create a broader definition of bullying, to include students with disabilities and anti-molestation” protections, Hanson says. “The reality is, in any environment—in today’s world—any of these things are possible. What was characteristic for us in the past were these programmatic responses to bullying that were episodic and dependent upon individual leaders or staff members. We wanted to [create a program to] make certain that we have great consistency, clear expectations and great training in place everywhere.”
    Hanson and the Fresno school board members solicited proposals to determine who would tackle the job of developing such a comprehensive campaign. They decided on Modell and his Project SAFE team, he says, because, “We determined that they were by far and away the ones who could help us. We wanted something new and distinct.”
    Hanson said neither he nor the board ran into objections to the $1.3 million price tag for the project from parents or the community.
    “I think I’ve seen maybe one letter to the editor about it being a lot of money,” Hanson says. “This is the sixth-biggest city in the state, with the potential for violence and criminal behavior. … Frankly, the plan is being embraced.”
    In March, Modell and his team begin collecting data on students, teachers, administrators, parents, transportation staff and other school employees. The assessment’s goal is to begin to understand the scope of the problems and needs of the district.
    “The uniqueness of Project SAFE is that it simultaneously addresses multiple forms of violence and is comprehensive in its approach to school safety,” Modell says. “It addresses bullying, sexual harassment and molestation of both students with and without disabilities. The efficacy of the project is dependent upon the involvement of key stakeholders, including students, staff, administrators, parents and community members. The involvement of key stakeholders will assist with the integration of policy change, curriculum development and program implementation across the district.
    The ultimate goal of Project SAFE is to facilitate a sustainable, long-term solution to school violence.”
    Hanson says that he and the Fresno Unified board determined early on that only a comprehensive, systematic plan such as Project SAFE could address issues of bullying and violence in the district and ultimately transform its approach to resolving these challenging issues.
    “It was kind of that old descriptor that, as school districts, we’re at a crossroads of interactions between homes and what kids learn on the street, while, at the same time, we’re trying to teach our kids. Teaching is our primary function, and this problem needs to be addressed if we are going to do our primary function well.
    “This plan is the right thing to do. As a superintendent, it just became a compelling action for me to take, because it’s the right thing to do.”
    Marsha Boutelle (mboutelle@csba.org) is a staff writer for California Schools.

    Safe School Ambassadors
    “Safe School Ambassadors is the single most significant factor in changing our school climate this year.”
    -Kathy Weigel, Principal, Atlantic High School, Palm Beach County, Florida
    “Climates of safety, respect, and emotional support can help diminish the possibility of targeted violence in schools.”
    – U.S. Secret Service & U.S. Department of Education, Threat Assessment Guide
    What it is
    The Safe School Ambassadors® program empowers leaders from the diverse groups and cliques on campus and equips them with nonviolent communication and intervention skills to stop bullying and violence among their peers.
    Video: NBC Today Show Download: Program Overview
    Video: Elementary School Overview
    Video: Middle/High School Overview
    Why it’s effective
    • Carefully identifying and engaging the influential students – who shape the school’s norms – harnesses their power to improve the school’s climate.
    • Students acquire skills they can use in the moment, with their friends, to defuse and deescalate potentially hurtful incidents.
    • Key adults are trained to facilitate regular small-group meetings of Ambassadors which sharpen their skills, sustain their commitment, and increase their reporting of dangerous activities like planned fights or weapons on campus.
    • Schools receive ongoing coaching and support – via phone, email, bulletins and web-based resources – to help address any implementation challenges and sustain the program.
    Learn more about How it Works
    Learn more about Why it Works
    About SSA: Program Model
    Outlined below are some of the key program components, the ones that make the SSA program unique and powerful.
    Recruiting
    Staff and students identify the socially influential youth on campus, the opinion leaders of every clique and group. Research shows that these key youth are much more likely to intervene – especially when they have the skills to do it effectively – because they have the most “social capital.”
    Selecting
    Students are invited to begin a dialogue about school climate and mistreatment. Their voices are heard and their views are valued. They participate in an orientation to the Ambassadors program, and can choose “in” or “out”.
    Training
    A powerful 2-day experience for approximately 30 to 40 students and the 6-8 adults who will work with them during the school year. Working together with the adults, they develop a deeper understanding of the problem of mistreatment on their campus, and learn powerful communication and intervention skills. Learn more about the Training.
    Action
    The SSA Program model allows Ambassadors to be safe, cool, and effective. Ambassadors first intervene with their close friends and others they know well; this familiarity increases their effectiveness and reduces the risk of retaliation. Ambassadors also act in the moment, as cruelty is happening, so their impact is immediate; they don’t need to wait for an appointment with a counselor or mediator.
    Record Keeping
    Ambassadors record their interventions on Action Logs that capture basic information like the date, time, and place of the incident, as well as the type(s) of mistreatment observed, the number of people involved (but NOT their names), the skill(s) utilized, and the outcome of the intervention.
    Supervision and Support
    Ambassadors participate in brief regular meetings facilitated by trained staff members to help them sharpen their skills and deepen their commitment to the work. See the Organization Chart & Roles to learn more about the program’s structure.
    Recognition and Celebration
    Since Ambassadors are not identified as a group to the entire student population, each SSA program chooses how they will recognize Ambassadors and acknowledge their contributions.
    See how the program makes an Impact.
    About SSA: Ambassadors’ Impact
    o Impact Video Clip – how the program has impacted Ambassadors, and the schools they serve
    o How Schools Benefit
    o Examples – Ambassador Actions, and their impact
    o Survey Results
    o Asset Building Power
    Every day, all across America, thousands of Safe School Ambassadors are taking courageous action, giving voice to their values, and making their schools safer places to be.
    “Before, my friends, they just want to fight. Now, there’s not so many fights.”
    –Elias Gallardo, Perris High School, CA

    Interviews with Program Advisors and school administrators, and data from Ambassador Action Logs and Surveys, confirm that Ambassadors have:
    o Reached out to isolated students so they don’t feel so alone
    o Offered support to peers who have been hurt, ridiculed or embarrassed in front of others
    o talked hot-headed friends out of fighting or retaliating
    o reported drug dealings, knives and guns on their campuses
    o prevented rapes, suicides, and gang fights

    “The Ambassadors have already stopped or prevented many acts of violence on our campuses – from teasing and bullying to fights and drug deals. Site Administrators have told me many stories about incidents they didn’t have to deal with because Ambassadors intervened early on.”
    –Dave Heard, Director of Safety and Security, Perris Union High School District, California
    Every day, all across America, thousands of Safe School Ambassadors are breaking the cycle of Pain – Rage – Revenge. This example was recounted by the SSA Program Advisor at a school in Riverside County, California:
    At lunch and after school, a group of boys regularly plays soccer. One team is Hispanic and the other is Caucasian. The games often produce arguments which can easily escalate into fights. When things get hot, the SSA on each team works with his teammates to cool things off, saying things like “Hey, we all just want to play soccer. If we fight, they won’t let us play. Let’s work this out” or “Just let it go, it’s not worth fighting over.”
    When one Ambassador’s teammates accusingly asked him “Hey, how come you always side with the whites?” (or vice versa), he responded with an exit strategy: “Hey, I’m not siding with anyone, I just want to play soccer.”

    And these individual actions have a measurable effect on school discipline data.

    “Our Safe School Ambassadors were able to prevent many fights. Usually the number of suspensions goes up in the spring, but this spring suspensions were down 20%. That was mostly due to the Ambassador training in January.”
    –Barry Sullivan, Counselor, Elsie Allen High School, CA
    About SSA: What Works
    “Outside In” Is Not Enough
    A quick scan of schools’ efforts in the past decade shows that most have responded to the issue of school violence and school safety first and foremost by preparing for a disaster. When they do turn toward prevention, it is typically from the “outside in” – increasing supervision and surveillance, setting stricter policies with tougher consequences for violation, setting up tip-lines and boxes, putting up signs and conducting assemblies.
    This Outside-In approach has limited impact. There just are not enough adults to be in every hotspot.

    “It’s not a hardware issue anymore — it’s an interpersonal issue. It’s the relationships between the people in the school.”
    –Bill Bond, Security Consultant, National Association of Secondary School Principals
    A recent survey by the National Association of Attorneys General found that while students generally appreciate the new measures, the changes do not increase their sense of safety (and thus do not help increase academic achievement and student performance) because they have little impact on school climate (the way people treat each other on campus).
    While we can force students to leave their colors, knives and guns at the school door, they still bring inside their prejudices, cliques, grudges, and attitudes. Their words become their weapons, and the casualties mount. Clearly, safe schools must be built in a different way.
    The “Inside Out” Approach
    Research and field experience indicate that safe schools must be built from the “Inside Out”.

    “Students see, hear and know things adults don’t, and they can intervene in ways adults can’t.”
    -¬Rick Phillips, Executive Director, Community Matters
    How to harness students’ power? Research indicates that at any given time the vast majority of students (as high as 85%) are neither aggressors nor targets; they are involved only as bystanders. Most bystanders respond to the mistreatment they witness in one of two ways:
    o they encourage the aggressors (so they don’t set themselves up to be targets later on)
    o they are silent, and thus collude with the abuse
    Usually they don’t intervene because they fear retaliation and don’t know what to do.
    But when bystanders DO step in, the bullying stops. Research shows that when a peer speaks up, the length of the bullying incident is cut by 75%.
    How to Mobilize the Bystanders
    Since bystanders hold the key to stopping mistreatment, how can they be motivated to act? The answer: by their leaders.
    As popularized in The Tipping Point and confirmed in scientific research, the social norms of a community change when a select few individuals ¬ its “opinion leaders” ¬ change their behavior, and use their status to influence others. Gather the opinion leaders, motivate them to change, and the community norms follow suit quickly.
    Breaking the Code of Silence
    The second part of the answer revolves around “empowerment.” For example, most of the talk about “breaking the code of silence” omits one simple fact: students will only bring information forward if they feel empowered. Telling them they’ll save a life, maybe their own, is like a hook without bait. When they are truly valued by the adults at their school, engaged in meaningful dialogue, heard and respected, and invited to play meaningful roles … then it will feel natural to share important information with the adults who are their partners in making their school a safe place. Empowering students is more than enlightened educational practice; it is an essential component of building safe schools.
    Download a 2-page summary of the research on which the SSA program is based.
    Read the Research Report that describes the logic model at the core of the Safe School Ambassadors program.
    See the core components of the Safe School Ambassadors Program Model.
    About SSA: Program Model
    Outlined below are some of the key program components, the ones that make the SSA program unique and powerful.
    Recruiting
    Staff and students identify the socially influential youth on campus, the opinion leaders of every clique and group. Research shows that these key youth are much more likely to intervene – especially when they have the skills to do it effectively – because they have the most “social capital.”
    Selecting
    Students are invited to begin a dialogue about school climate and mistreatment. Their voices are heard and their views are valued. They participate in an orientation to the Ambassadors program, and can choose “in” or “out”.
    Training
    A powerful 2-day experience for approximately 30 to 40 students and the 6-8 adults who will work with them during the school year. Working together with the adults, they develop a deeper understanding of the problem of mistreatment on their campus, and learn powerful communication and intervention skills. Learn more about the Training.
    Action
    The SSA Program model allows Ambassadors to be safe, cool, and effective. Ambassadors first intervene with their close friends and others they know well; this familiarity increases their effectiveness and reduces the risk of retaliation. Ambassadors also act in the moment, as cruelty is happening, so their impact is immediate; they don’t need to wait for an appointment with a counselor or mediator.
    Record Keeping
    Ambassadors record their interventions on Action Logs that capture basic information like the date, time, and place of the incident, as well as the type(s) of mistreatment observed, the number of people involved (but NOT their names), the skill(s) utilized, and the outcome of the intervention.
    Supervision and Support
    Ambassadors participate in brief regular meetings facilitated by trained staff members to help them sharpen their skills and deepen their commitment to the work. See the Organization Chart & Roles to learn more about the program’s structure.
    Recognition and Celebration
    Since Ambassadors are not identified as a group to the entire student population, each SSA program chooses how they will recognize Ambassadors and acknowledge their contributions.
    See how the program makes an Impact.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 7, 2009 @ 6:32 am

  100. in #96 DK wrote “Clearly clearly clearly; bullying is not an LGBT issue.” I hope that was a Feudian slip and you meant bullying is not an LGBT issue only.

    These are massive posts and I scanned them very quickly. Any comprehensive analysis of bullying would cover all varieties which appears to be the case here, but I didn’t pick up on any statistics similar to those referred to by Susan Davis emphasizing the severity of the LGBT bullying issue. I understood your remarks on the relativity of statistics in some cases, but if you wished to refute what Susan posted as trumped up or manipulated I would expect a contradictory set of stats rather than a boat load of anecdotes about other kinds of bullying.

    Here is one line a found and pulled for Jeff Thomason. “Empathy is undermined by strong social and cultural norms concerning the attribution of blame to victims in social situations.”

    Comment by M.I. — May 7, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  101. M.I. … Yes, I am a strong believer in the idea that people should take responsibility for their choices and actions. And, not only do I teach my kids not to be bullies, I teach them not to be victims. However, none of that is relevant here.

    I am not saying that LGBT bullying does not need to be addressed. I am saying that LGBT bullying should not be elevated to a special status above all other bullying. I also believe that the proposed curriculum is a violation of the fundamental right of parents to raise their kids according to their own set of family values.

    The interesting thing is that most of this is happening because one freaky parent wants to dress her little boy like a little girl. Unless someone sets that parent straight, that poor kid is going to be severely bullied and teased throughout his life … and no amount of gay agenda indoctrination of the community is going to change that. If you don’t want that little boy to be incessantly teased, STOP PUTTING DRESSES ON HIM.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 7, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  102. Jeff,

    Teach your children by modelling the actions/behaviors you want them to emulate (or, sadly, maybe you are). Your recent postings on this blog have been, for the most part mean spirited and bullying. Glad I’m not your kid.

    Why do you (and many others) assume that the parent of a transgender kid is “freaky” and is trying to “indoctrinate” the kid? Do you know the parent(s) in question? If not, then why make uninformed assumptions and pigeon hole people into your preconceptions?

    NPR ran a fascinating piece on parents of transgender kids (one right here)and the different ways they handled the issue: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91154157. I dare you to listen to that story and tell me that the parents who forced their kid to deny what he was (i.e. – suck it up and dress like the boy we want you to be) aren’t the ones damaging their kid for life.

    Comment by david burton — May 7, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

  103. David B.,
    Thanks for the link. It’s a sobering story.

    Ironically, as a girl growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, I resented always having to wear a dress–mainly because they weren’t rugged enough for playing tag football and softball, never mind climbing trees. (I always knew I was a girl and felt sorry for boys because they acted so weird.)

    Later, I enjoyed dresses, but stockings held up by a harness and, later, pantyhose, were just so uncomfortable, I rejoiced when pantsuits (ugly as they were) came into fashion.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 7, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

  104. “Why do you (and many others) assume that the parent of a transgender kid is “freaky” and is trying to “indoctrinate” the kid? Do you know the parent(s) in question”

    Yes, I know them. Yes, they are freaky. Yes, that is the general consensus among the many people I know that know them.

    Do you think it is a coincidence that the [parent] of the [child] used to be [lawyer]? It is not a coincidence …

    [edited to remove identifying information]

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 7, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  105. Jeff,

    It’s not like there are not freaky people who do weird things with their kids, and many of them are not as obvious as somebody letting (or encouraging) their boy to wear a dress. But it’s also not like there are not kids who know very early they are not swimming in the main stream and they should be allowed to work out who they are. Who knows, maybe God knew these folks were the right people for this child to be born to. I’m not saying that’s what I think because hell, I don’t even believe in God at least as most people express it. The God option just begs being alluded to as a possibility. It’s all about being open to possibilities even when they freak you out.

    Have you heard about the twin boys where the doctor screwed up the circumcision on one of them and then convinced the mother to raise the kid as a girl? Unimaginable, but it happened.

    If the child you are talking about is being manipulated then his parents are probably in for some wicked pay back in the coming years, but unless it’s a situation for the County social services to intervene, it’s none of our business for the most part. It does sound like a child in that circumstance ends up with a big bull’s eye on their head, but just as his life must be a challenge maybe the challenge for the rest of us is to mind our own business and not stoop low enough to take shots at the kid and his family.

    I went to the Youth View film night because our son has an ROP film class after school. Among the competing films was a short documentary about a kid who decided on his own to come out in high school. He happened to also be black, but he was athlete and wrestler and nobody had a clue. It was quite cool. The first person he ever told was his teacher and when he said he had something personal to discuss they guy asked if he had gotten a girl pregnant.

    The professional main feature about Katrina was “Trouble the Water” and it was mind blowing. I’ll post a comment about that on the related thread.

    Comment by M.I. — May 7, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

  106. “Unless it’s a situation for the County social services to intervene, it’s none of our business for the most part.”

    I agree 100% … until they try to teach our impressionable elementary school-aged children that it is a normal way to live. In addition, teachers have already shown that they will go WAY over the line on this issue. There is a reason that more than half of the parents with school-aged children do not want this subject taught in elementary school … and there is a reason why the gay agenda pushers do not want parents to be able to opt-out. Should the parents dictate curriculum, or the childless LGBTs?

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 7, 2009 @ 11:15 pm

  107. JRT:

    Private school, home school, Catholic school. Godspeed.

    Comment by dave — May 7, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

  108. dave,

    While I would like to remove my children from public schools if they start teaching that homosexuality is ‘normal’, CA law says I must leave my kids in school. Are you willing to pay for my kid’s education?
    What about all the others that feel as I do?

    JRT is not alone in his opinion.

    AUSD looks to have chosen to allow a biased group to create an awful program. People have trashed the BSA for requiring their leaders to be outspoken about promoting gay behavior but look what AUSD has done -They did not allow my reprehensive opinions in this committee,. The BSA is actually a very open and accepting organization, but it is still a private organization. Our public schools are, -public. Why no balance allowed?

    Comment by voter — May 8, 2009 @ 7:26 am

  109. dave #107:

    How about we remove the gay kids from the public school system so that they don’t get picked on? There are FAR fewer of them than of families who do not want the proposed material taught to their children.

    What … you don’t think that would be appropriate either? I thought not …

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 8, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  110. re: 108

    Does CA law say you must keep them in public schools? If so, that’s news to the millions of CA kids in private, parochial & home schools.

    Comment by dave — May 8, 2009 @ 8:16 am

  111. 109

    Ah, the old “remove the undesirables” plan.

    Comment by dave — May 8, 2009 @ 8:34 am

  112. 106. the point is the LGBT people aren’t all childless and children identify LGBT on their own and often before they even understand themselves. They exist, deal with it. It’s about live and let live and moving on.

    Comment by M.I. — May 8, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  113. #112 Exactly why AUSD sould keep the Sex identity OUT of K-5!

    #110 – Since I can’t afford it, I need to try to protect reasonable values in our Public Schools.

    Comment by voter — May 8, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

  114. Sex identity out of schools? Let’s start by banning teachers from wearing wedding rings or mentioning their spouses.

    Or did you mean only sex identities that don’t match yours?

    Comment by dave — May 8, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  115. Wedding rings are not related to sexuality, you display an ureasonable attitude on this subject…

    Comment by voter — May 8, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  116. 115: If wedding rings are “not related to sexuality,” then what about being able to discuss who your parents are without fear of recrimination and judgment? Is THAT s*x? Not any more than being able to discuss having parents of two different races would be. (Would you opt out of the racism curriculum on bullying and hate,m too?)

    AUSD is NOT proposing this curriculum for discussing s*x in K-5, but to discourage bullying, harassment, and abuse of a legally protected class of students and families under CA state law.
    If it’s OK for one kid to talk about his married mom and dad, it has to be equally OK for another kid to talk about his two moms or her two dads. That is NOT s*x, folks. It’s called f-a-m-i-l-y.

    (And families DO differ in Alameda. That’s called d-e-m-o-g-r-a-p-h-i-c-s. That’s not s*x either. Just the truth.)

    Comment by jon Spangler — May 8, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  117. Bob Dylan was right, “For the times, they are a changin’….”

    Comment by Joe — May 8, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

  118. Jon

    re #116 – All that and more are currently allowed on AUSD grounds without the proposed curriculum. Nobody restricts children from talking about their families.

    BTW What is AUSD’s definition of “normal”; “gay”; “lesbian” “bisexual”; and “transgender”?

    Currently AUSD introduces the word “heterosexual” in the 5th grade curriculum.

    Why did AUSD use a biased and exclusionary committee to assemble an “inclusionary” curriculum? How can it have a chance of real acceptance without the committee itself having a tolerance of including the full spectrum of the family types within the school district?

    This is a fundamental and foundational mistake made by those who allowed the committee to form and act in the way it did.

    The are many better ways to meet the anti-harassment AND inclusionary goals without dividing the community. It would be a HUGE mistake for the BOE to adopt this curriculum.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 8, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  119. Following are the “definitions” AUSD proposes for new K-5 curriculum:
    Notice the absence of “normal”; intimate”; that LGBT terms are not expressed honestly or have been ‘redefined’ as terms of ‘romance’ and ‘commitment’. While I appreciate that the district omits “transgender” I have to wonder if the curriculum omits use of the term at K-5, or if this is just another District omission to the public. The last line of the list is large font bold “More Vocabulary Words”. I can’t help wondering what has been excluded from public review.

    Also AUSD keeps referring to “existing anti-violence curriculum for all of the district’s elementary schools”
    Can you explain what this is? Why it is failing? Why isn’t any new anti-bullying curriculum attempting to overcome these failures?

    Here is AUSD’s list from their website:
    Vocabulary Words
    Ally: A person who does something to help or stand up for
    another person.
    Birth Mother, Birth Father: Someone’s natural mother and
    father.
    Bisexual: A person who has a romantic relationship with
    either a man or a woman.
    Caretaker: One who cares for or ensures the safety of another
    Comfortable: To make someone feel free from stress or
    anxiety.
    Couple: Two people who are married, are living together, or
    have an intimate relationship.
    Empathy: The ability to identify with and understand
    somebody else’s feelings or difficulties.
    Exclude: To prevent somebody from entering or participating.
    To prevent someone from being considered or accepted.
    Different: Not the same as something or somebody else.
    Family: a group of people living together and functioning as a
    single household.
    Blended Family: When two separate families join
    together to live as one single family unit.
    Divorced Family: When the parents in a family are no
    longer married. The children live with one or the other
    of the parents in an agreed upon decision.
    Mixed Family: When two or more cultures and
    ethnicities join together to form one family.
    Single Parent Family: When only one parent raises
    the children in a family.
    Gay: Both men and women are romantically involved in a
    committed relationship with someone of the same sex.
    Hurtful: To cause emotional pain or suffering to another
    person.
    LGBT: An acronym that stands for the words, Lesbian, Gay,
    Bisexual, or Transgender
    Lesbian: A woman who has a romantic relationship with
    women.
    Name calling: To call someone, in a hurtful or bullying way, a
    name that is unkind or mean.
    Parent: A person’s mother, father or legal guardian.
    Adoptive Parent: One or two people who legally
    adopt a child to whom one or both of them did not give
    birth.
    Foster Parent: On a temporary basis, one who legally
    provides a home and cares for a child.
    Grandparent: The parent of a child’s mother or
    father. This grandparent may also be the legal guardian
    and caretaker of the child.
    Guardian: In the absence of a parent, a guardian is a
    person that the State allows to legally care and provide
    for a child.
    Step parent: A person who becomes a parent through
    the remarriage of a parent to someone who has children.
    Two Moms: Two women who live together as a
    family and are parents of a child.
    Two Dads: Two men who live together as a family
    and are the parents of a child.
    Similar: When something or someone is more alike than
    different.
    Stereotypes: An oversimplified idea or generalization about a
    group of people. Labeling an entire group based on the actions
    of some.
    Teasing: (Good natured) Teasing in a playful back and forth,
    with a friendly tone of voice or laughter. It may also be
    accompanied by affectionate gestures.
    Teasing: (Hurtful) Teasing in a hurtful way is more often
    accompanied by an angry or sarcastic tone of voice and angry
    body language. Hurtful teasing can feel like a put-down or
    being made fun of.
    More Vocabulary Words

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 8, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

  120. Funny that with all of those politically correct definitions the AUSD completely fails to define the two most important terms … mother and father. Every child has one mother and one father … there is no disputing that fact. However, by excluding the terms mother and father from the definitions of a family unit, the school does not have to discuss this fundamental truth and thus can effectively minimize the value of a REAL family.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 8, 2009 @ 11:22 pm

  121. Correction, every child has a sperm donor and an egg donor. Neither one should give you the right to be called mother or father. One of the tragedies of our society is a jobless drinking jerk can “nail” a girl and create a child via a one night stand and somehow he is anointed “father” and no one questions it. A loving kind couple can plan, save money to afford the adoption process and be a true example of good parenting and we tell them we will judge them and decide if a kindergarten teacher can call them a family.

    Comment by member of a real family — May 9, 2009 @ 6:42 am

  122. Correct … you tried to change the definition of “marriage” and failed. Now you are attempting to change the definition of “father” to “sperm donor” … and you will fail at that as well. Take your man-hating venom and spew it elsewhere butch …

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 9, 2009 @ 8:12 am

  123. I just so happen to be a woman happily married to a man. We have lots of children the very traditional way. I have a sister who is as white trash as they come. I have watched what has happened to her daughter and it is tragic. I will have play dates with the little girl in my daughter’s class that comes from a two mommy family over my niece anyday of the week.

    Comment by member of a real family — May 9, 2009 @ 8:54 am

  124. On definitions:

    #120, JRT am I correct in thinking that your definition of a “REAL family” is one with a mother and a father?

    How then do we explain the existence of straight single-parent families? Or families where a grandparent (or other relative) is raising the children because the biological parents are unable to do so? Or families split by divorce?

    And DK (#119) I’m curious: how would you like AUSD to define “normal” in this context?

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 9, 2009 @ 10:37 am

  125. Jeff,

    Not all “families” have a mother and father by definition, even if biologically it takes one of each to create a child. The discussion is about households that raise children. As far as I’m concerned that is about facts, not politically correct definitions.

    For years divorce was stigmatized much more than it is now and single parenting was also ignored as part of that. Nobody is trying to change the definition of mother or father, it’s just that some kids get raised in families with just one or the other and sometimes with neither, and now we are including the fact that some homes have two of one and none of the other.

    I want to tell you a story about a boy in a dress. When our son was ten he went to Shakespeare camp and they performed for the parents at weeks end. The councilor explained that in the time of Shakespeare women couldn’t be actors so men played women and he said that if a boy in the group would play a female role that he would wear a dress to camp the day of the performance. Because of the ratio of male parts many girl’s were already cast in male roles. Our son being a true ham took the challenge, though he had some nervousness even though he was “just acting”. He did a great Mistress Quigley and has just completed his first year studying drama in NYC. The councilor that fateful day wore a dress too, but he didn’t seem gay either, just a guy with a sense of humor about himself trying to get kids to stretch their limits.

    Since high school our son has had gay friends but he seems to be heterosexual. If he were gay I cannot say with honesty that I would be absolutely 100% comfortable because I grew up in the same culture we all did, but I would not be kicking myself because he wore a dress at Shakespeare camp. I would be struggling more with my own homophobia than I do now, because not accepting a child whose sperm I donated for who he is would hurt him and it would kill me.

    Comment by M.I. — May 9, 2009 @ 10:42 am

  126. Well … at least we have Kaboom tonight to take our minds of this divisive issue :-)

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 9, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  127. #124
    Susan,
    Normal can be defined as usual, standard, common, typical, or average. The definition does not imply a value of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. This definition also happens be reflective of my view of homosexuality – not “normal” not “wrong”.

    In terms of this thread, or the debate on when it is appropriate to teach terms relating to homosexuality, I think they should continue to be initially introduced to school age children at the same as we currently teach those terms, and the heterosexual terms.

    “Overcompensating political correctness” does not alter the age for when sexually related terms are appropriate for children. Both AUSD and the State Dept of ED have all of those terms introduced in the 5th grade.

    I don’t agree with teaching impressionable kids that homosexuality is “normal”.
    At an appropriate age, (I suggest middle school), when the complex issues of sex can be taught, including the full menu of orientations, identities and preferences, it can be addressed –that homosexuality in all its forms, while not a ‘norm’, is acceptable, and that in almost every society it would be ‘normal’ or ‘expected’ that part of the society is homosexual.

    IMO; Homosexuality is not nearly as common as blue eyes or black hair, but far more common than having 6 toes; and like those other characteristics, homosexuality (or heterosexuality), has nothing to do with a person’s value or character. As John Laird would say “Why are people inquiring about my sexual preference, the flavor of ice cream I prefer is far more likely to be relevant in any interaction I have with them? These were comment he was making 25 – 30 years ago when he was running for mayor of Santa Cruz. Today Assemblyman John Laird is chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, and remains deeply committed to education.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 9, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

  128. BOE President McMahon and Board Members,,

    AUSD keeps referring to the “existing anti-violence curriculum for all of the district’s elementary schools.” Can you explain what this is, how it deals with anti-harassment of all forms, and why it is failing? Certainly LGBT related bullying / harassment is not the only negative behavior currently engaged in, or inflicted upon our students. In fact by current State studies, it represents a comparatively small fraction of harassment of other legally protected characteristics. Any new anti-bullying curriculum should be attempting to overcome all issues of harassment while meeting the goals of SB 394.
    I have a hard time wrapping my mind around using the ‘Safe Place To Learn Act’ to promote a solely LGBT “inclusive curriculum” which excludes all non-LGBT bullying and harassment. I do not believe our schools in any way do not meet the constitutional rights of anyone on the grounds of actual or perceived sexual gender or sexual orientation or any of the overtly protected statuses of basis of sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability.
    I have heard the claim that some gay people feel they are in an “invisible” class. However, sexual identity is not a relevant consideration to differentiate ‘special needs’ required by law. I see “moms” and “dads” at our schools, not “gay moms” or “gay dads” or “hetero moms” or “hetero dads”. This is not only acceptable; it is preferable, especially at our elementary schools. I do not see an obligation required by law to address others by sexual orientation; on the contrary people should NOT be separated, physically, verbally, or psychologically, on the basis of sex – including actual or perceived sexual gender or orientation. While I understand and agree with or obligation to protect all of our students from all forms of harassment at school and that all students should feel safe and welcomed in our schools, every anti harassment curricular effort should address all forms of harassment. Gay and lesbian parents in our community should not gain special recognition for their sexual identity or orientation. A curriculum should not single them out.
    I do believe that the books in our schools, especially the K-3 classroom reading books should exemplify or mirror all the family styles in our community. However that concept is not addressed by this current proposal.
    While I am not a professional psychologist, I have spent quite a bit of time examining these issues, and have looked at a wealth of programs and tried to understand the developmental science associated with each. I urge all to examine the goals, and philosophy and methods (why and how) to achieve goals used in the popular and successful ‘Safe School Ambassador’ program used by “Community Matters” (http://www.community-matters.org/safe-school-ambassadors/ )
    In addition to training staff how to follow the AUSD BOE Policies on anti-harassment, which is both an element of the ‘Safe Place to Learn Act’ of 2008, and wanted by AUSD teachers, (according to reports of the 10/08 survey conducted during staff development day), an inclusive committee (representative of a broad selection of family types in Alameda) could put together a a much better curriculum for AUSD students. Such a curriculum should include the important elements of both student led and staff led actions and make the program more appealing to our LGBT community by expanding the SSA qualities to achieve the goals of inclusion the committee bringing forth this current proposal are substituting as the goals of the ‘Safe Place To Learn Act’ (SB 394).
    The immediate need is to fulfill the guidelines in SB394. The continued goal should be an immediate formation of a new committee, inclusive of all perspectives of our community, to address the formation of a path of action to end all harassment in our schools. The current proposal is divisive, only addresses harassment of one legally protected characteristic, and is already having negative results where it is being ‘tested’. Not surprisingly it is arming bullies with new vocabulary being used with harsher intent, and is more hurtful to the victims. Many in the community have also expressed problems with the lessons themselves, problems which are too lengthy to explain here, but include the need of a review by unbiased psychologists as to the real potential outcomes of these lessons, and the problem which can result from the fact that the staff will still not be receiving the training they have been requesting. Staff needs to be protected, by being given a specific protocol for addressing harassment especially at middle and high school grades. Please help our school community to pull together, not separate factions.

    If the current anti-harassment curriculum as Michele informs me, (Caring Schools Curriculum) then …

    Judging from all the reported harassment still ongoing in our school district, can we infer that AUSD should look for a curriculum other than CSC? Or was the reported 10/08 survey of the teachers that showed teachers want training on how to deal with harassment symptomatic of the District buying the use of specific programs, but never instructing teachers how to use the programs? Or am I correct in assuming staff want specific written instruction and guidelines for dealing with harassment so they (staff), can meet the BOE Policy of intervening whenever harassment is witnessed, but they (staff), want clarity on how to respond without assuming any personal liability?

    It is because of all the harassment still happening in our schools that I feel it is obvious this LGBT-only curriculum for only K-5, is the wrong direction.

    I’m perplexed by those that disagree when less than 20 – 25% of all school harassment is directed at actual or perceived LGBT issues (almost 50% is based on ethnicity / nationality, and more harassment is religious based than LGBT based), and what portion of LGBT-based harassment is the misuse of words in K-5 compared to specifically hurtful LGBT-related harassment in middle and high school? So it seems proponents want a curriculum to address 5-10% of the ongoing harassment.

    How can a failing anti-harassment program justify an LGBT-only curriculum? Why would we use the same Caring Schools Curriculum-based curricula if it is not meeting goals where we have used other lessons of the program?

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 9, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

  129. JRT –
    May the skies be clear for you tonight; I hope you can enjoy the show, and that it is so spectacular that it clears to mind of homophobic fears.

    Comment by dk — May 9, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

  130. Hello,
    I had not realized this situation was going on until it was brought to my attention by a friend whose children mean the world to me. Teaching about Gay and Lesbian partners and families is as natural as teaching about parents whose might be a mix of Jewish and Catholic, who might be a mix of African American and Caucasian, who might be a mix of American born and Foreign born. Thanks to this wonderful country of ours, we have the freedom to love and become parents with whom ever we want. Gay people have the legal right to become parents and raise children, just like those who would rather this right not be given to them. They have the rights granted to them in this state and religious teaching, or personal belief cannot change that. It is just a fact of life in this state. Currently the right to marry is not grated to same sex couples but the right to have children and be parents is a right that does now and will forever more exist here. Not teaching about this right and these kinds of parents is leaving our children misinformed and creates confusion for the kids who don’t have this kind of family when the friends they make at school have two mommies or two daddies..
    Not teaching about these families is denying they exist. I assume that denying they exist is done in the hope that they will go away. From what I can see and what I know, they are not going away and it is becoming more and more mainstream to see happy healthy gay couples with their kids shopping at Trader Joes or playing in the park or walking their dog at the dog park or having a birthday party in their yards. These are families that live next door and just like the Catholic / Jewish family and the African-American/Caucasian and the foreign born/American born parents, they want their kids to grow up feeling loved, supported and respected. To leave this out of our children’s education is a form of censorship of our lives and history. There are some people who believe there was no holocaust and they would prefer schools to teach their children that the holocaust was Jewish propaganda. Most of us would see this as child abuse.
    We live in California where people have come together from everywhere in the world to celebrate this big melting pot of social, religious, spiritual and political beliefs. We generally celebrate the freedoms offered to the people of California to be who ever they want to be, liberal and conservative. I personally associate misinformation and denying freedoms with other states in the union. Not California. I want our children to have ALL the information, not just a select very well scrubbed sound bite. I want our kids to make informed decisions about their lives and their choices – fully informed.
    Lastly, I have a question for those who would hold back this information from their kids. Do you remember being a kid yourself? Do you remember when your parents or friends held back information from you? Remember when you eventually found out this information, how either confused you were or upset that you were not trusted or worse, wanted to try it all the more because it was such forbidden fruit? Do you think kids are any different now?
    Let’s trust our kids, let’s give them all the information, help them understand the information and let’s celebrate this wonderful diverse community where we live our happy lives.

    Comment by Michael Eccles — May 12, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  131. Not teaching about these families is denying they exist.

    WRONG

    I assume that denying they exist is done in the hope that they will go away.

    WRONG AGAIN!

    I want our children to have ALL the information,-

    ME TOO, WHEN AGE APPROPRIATE. We teach “heterosexual” vocabulary in 5th grade, why should any sexually related material be taught at an earlier age just be cause it involves words related to LGBT? Why is “homosexual” a more appropriate word for K-5 than “heterosexual”? How does a proposed curriculum change the mental maturity of little kids to grasp or understand sexual orientation preferences?

    Why does one group’s desires outweigh the desires of another group, as both groups are constitutionally protected?

    Gays are not “invisible”, they are recognized as people, like everyone else – not recognized by sexual orientation. That’s not invisible, that’s politically correct.

    Comment by equity — May 12, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

  132. Are “husband” “wife” “parents” and “family” really not mentioned until 5th Grade?

    Comment by dave — May 12, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

  133. Equity

    your post is a dead ringer for DK, but he only posts under his name so you aren’t him, right?

    Comment by M.I. — May 12, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

  134. I don’t have a child in school anymore. I do have one grandchild (so far). I home-schooled my kids because I felt I could give them a better education–a hate-free, unbigoted one. My granddaughter has a number of aunts, uncles, grand and great grands who fit LGBT classifications. I hope she never has to deal with the homophobic bigots in Alameda. I was reading the posts to see if I wanted to go support the parents who are for the new proposed curricula. However, the opponents so turn my stomach that I don’t think I could keep a civil tongue.

    Comment by kate sunflower — May 23, 2009 @ 11:27 pm

  135. Question. Are we going to also teach K-5 kids that, if it weren’t for the wonders of medical technology, that children of gay couples would not be possible? I would like to hear biology teachers’ view on this curriculum.

    Comment by technologist — May 24, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  136. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their wickedness prevent the TRUTH from being known;
    Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them.
    Because that when they know God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to DISHONOR THEIR OWN BODIES BETWEEN THEMSELVES:
    For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: FOR EVEN THEIR WOMEN DID CHANGE THE NATURAL USE INTO THAT WHICH IS AGAINST NATURE: And
    likewise also the men, LEAVING THE NATURAL USE OF THE WOMAN, BURNED IN THEIR LUST ONE TOWARD ANOTHER; MEN WITH MEN WORKING THAT WHICH IS UNSEEMLY, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which they deserve.
    And even as they did not like to retain God in their
    knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things that should never be done.
    The are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning and disobey their parents.
    They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, YET THEY DO THEM ANYWAY. WORSE YET THEY ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO
    DO THEM, TOO.
    And we know that God, in HIS justice, will punish anyone who does such things.
    But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, YOU ARE STORING UP TERRIBLE PUNISHMENT FOR YOURSELF. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.

    AMEN & AMEN

    Comment by cp — June 30, 2009 @ 11:58 pm

  137. Geez, CP, what a trollish rant. Now go away.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — July 1, 2009 @ 12:18 am

  138. It is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.
    But now God has shown us a way to made right with HIM without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.
    We are made right with God by placing our faith in JESUS CHRIST. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
    For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
    For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through JESUS CHRIST our LORD.
    For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.
    That if you shall confess with your mouth the LORD JESUS, and shall believe in your heart that God raised HIM from the dead, you will be saved. Have salvation full and free. As you grow in your relationship with the living GOD you will see the grave error in homosexuality. I pray for their salvation.

    Comment by cp — July 1, 2009 @ 12:26 am

  139. Linda, I may go away but you cannot make God’s word go away.

    Comment by cp — July 1, 2009 @ 12:28 am

  140. Our father whose art’s in heaven
    hollow be thy name
    unless things change
    Thy wigdom come and gone
    thy will will be undone
    on earth as it isn’t heaven
    Give us this day our daily dread
    at least three times a day
    and forgive us our trespasses
    as we would forgive those lovelies
    whom we wish would trespass against us
    And lead us not into temptation
    too often on weekdays
    but deliver us from evil
    whose presence remains unexplained
    in thy kingdom of power and glory
    oh man

    Comment by notadave — July 1, 2009 @ 10:28 am

  141. THE RECALL HAS BEGUN AND THE LAWSUITS WILL FOLLOW SHORTLY … I told you this was coming. Did you really think that the parents of Alameda would sit back and let a vocal minority attempt to indoctrinate our kids with the homosexual lifestyle? And, attempt to do it without notice? And, attempt to do it without giving us an option to opt out? The legal proceedings are just getting started. And, yes … we are well organized and well financed. We don’t care what you do in your own homes, have no desire to “cure” you, and don’t care if you want to marry each other … just don’t try to teach that crap to our kids.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 9, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

  142. He’s not bluffing. He’s not bluffing!

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 9, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

  143. No, he’s not bluffing. He’s gloating. It’s incredibly unattractive.

    I’ll cast my vote with those who advocate for empathy, tolerance, and education any day — whether they’re straight or gay.

    Comment by H Supporter — August 9, 2009 @ 10:17 pm

  144. That movie was on ION tonight :-)

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 9, 2009 @ 10:21 pm


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