Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 17, 2009

Words like violence

Filed under: Alameda, School — Lauren Do @ 7:11 am

Today is the National Day of Silence, the purpose of which is to bring attention to the bullying and harassment that occurs at schools across the nation everyday.  Unfortunately, some children — despite support at home — are unable to cope with the daily taunting and the results are tragic.    Earlier this month, an 11 year old in Massachusetts hung himself because he was unable to psychologically handle the bullying.   From Essence.com:

Sirdeaner Walker, 44, is ferociously protective of her four children. So when her 11-year-old son Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover complained to her last September of being bullied by students at the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts, for “acting gay,” she did something about it. She spoke to his principal, teachers and guidance counselor and became more active in the Parent Teachers Organization. But the teasing and threats continued and Carl started acting out in school, becoming increasingly fearful and felt even more alienated.

On Monday, April 6, everyone learned just how serious the situation had become. Walker found her little boy with an extension cord wrapped around his neck, hanging from the third floor rafter of their home.

In the letter left behind for his mother, Carl explained that he simply couldn’t take it anymore. He apologized, expressing his love for his family and bequeathing his Pokéman cards to his little brother—a sign of his youth but an even bigger indication of the senselessness of this act.

[T]here was no indication of [Carl struggling with his sexuality]. Carl was just 11 years old. I don’t even think he reached puberty yet. His voice hadn’t started to change. This is bigger than a gay issue. In fact, I’m worried about one of Carl’s friends who is being picked on as well because she’s overweight. That’s why it’s bigger than a gay issue. These kids will tease you over anything…

This story is important in light of the day today, but also framed around our own struggle with the School District’s decision to introduce the Safe Schools curriculum in classrooms starting with kids as young as Kindergarten.  Two websites, one for and one against have been created to further their points about the issue, but both have links to the proposed curriculum.  Personally, I don’t have a problem with the curriculum as proposed for my children when they are of school going age.  When the word “gay” is used as a pejorative on school yards and in classrooms everywhere — even by “good” kids — it just reinforced the need for open and honest discussions.

To dialogue more about these issues Alameda Community Alliance Resource for Education (CARE) will be hosting an event tomorrow night (5:00 p.m.): Breaking The Silence Through Song and Dialogue.   The organizers: Andrew Raskopf and David Gunderman have lured Broadway actor and orginial cast member of the rock opera Rent to Alameda to sing Seasons of Love with the Encinal High School  cast.  The event will be held at Alameda High’s Little Theatre and there is a suggested donation of $5 for students and $10 for adults.  

Enjoy the Silence.

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35 Comments

  1. During my three years as a volunteer at Franklin Elementary School (almost-daily noon supervisor, Rock and Roll to School, Safe Routes to School, etc.), I saw and heard a lot of bullying and abuse, much of it perpetrated by otherwise “normal” and “good” kids.

    The “Stop LGBT Training” Web site puts out the same fearful and inaccurate arguments about “the gay agenda” that have dismayed straight Christians like me for years.

    There is nothing age-inappropriate about teaching tolerance and telling the truth about what families *really* look like these days. (And it isn’t Ozzie and Harriet any more, folks.)

    Some Alameda families are childless (like ours), some have single parents, some have separated parents, and sometimes they have two mommies or two daddies. All these Alameda families–and their children–deserve equal respect and support, no matter what one’s religious or moral views may be regarding single parenting, divorce, or gender orientation.

    A Good Book I subscribe to states that we should “love one another.” That means respect and acceptance, among other things, especially in the public sphere. (Civility is a closely-related concept that occupies a soft spot in my heart.)

    And we could all use more acceptance, forbearance, and tolerance, especially when it comes to raising *our* children in *our* schools.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 18, 2009 @ 2:10 am

  2. ..but lets keep the words and concepts related to the sexual choices of adults OUT of the K-5 classrooms.

    Deal with bullying and name calling of course, but not by teaching sexual terms…

    I believe it is in 5th grade that begins the state’s standard sex-ed – there are good reasons to give the little one’s their years of innocence without planting concepts in their little heads that they don’t need to be concerned about.

    Alameda’s proposed LGBTQ-sponsered agenda on “sexual awareness and gender identity” for K-5 is not the appropriate way to stop name calling on the playground; and the method and way the curriculum was put together has been wrong, wrong, wrong! Only LGBT groups, one vocal gay parent, and a self-selected group of AUSD staff were allowed to participate; so of course it has been put together as a LGBT advocacy group with their text books by an LGBT publisher.

    This is way beyond ‘school safety’.

    Jon – what were YOUR actions when you saw name calling? Did you sit the kids down and explain the meaning of words like “gay”, “queer” “homosexual” “transgender”, etc? I don’t think sexual terms need to be taught at K-5 until the standard 5 th grade sex ed curriculum.

    Comment by Common Sense — April 20, 2009 @ 6:38 am

  3. I know what will stop bullying!!! Let’s teach our 5 year olds about homosexuality and gay marriage … that will fix everything 🙂 Viva la gay agenda!

    Also, I think that we need to teach kids about the joy of being fat as well. After all, certain kids are genetically predisposed to being overweight and we don’t want them to feel excluded. We could teach kindergarteners about the joy of cooking and have little mock fat people weddings.

    I believe the LGBT agenda pushers and people without children, like Jon Spangler above, know what is best for our kids and are more qualified than mere parents to make such decisions. We should let them teach our 5 year olds whatever they want, even against our objections, and we as parents should not be able to opt our kids out of indoctrination classes that we feel will steal away our children’s innocence. After all … this is America!!!

    🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 20, 2009 @ 8:02 am

  4. Also, does anyone else find it funny how people without kids always like to use the phrase “our children” when they are trying to tell you what is best for your kids?

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 20, 2009 @ 8:10 am

  5. My guess is that if Jon Spangler agreed with you then the number of children he has would not be an issue. Regardless, we all pay into the public schools and have a stake in public education if we currently have children in the public schools or not. If teachers and administration see a problem with bullying, then they need to address it. I’m going to trust that they have the knowledge, ability and education to develop an effective solution. I don’t know how an “LGBT agenda” would be any different from a “heterosexual agenda” as it pertains to public education.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — April 20, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  6. Let’s leave the whole sexual agenda out of the K-5 anti-name-calling and bullying curriculum.

    Let’s teach teachers and staff how to deal with this name calling or bulling issue, not teach all the K-5 kids about bisexuality, try-sexuality and homosexual or heterosexual or transgender issues until state approved sex-education begins in 5th or 6th grade.

    “Queer” is not normal – Look it up in Webster’s. Why try to make it normal to kids who don’t have, nor need to have a clue about this. Leave them their few years of blissful ignorance on sexually related issues.

    Even though my kids have been to Pride Parades and I’ve worked on floats for marriage equality, they did not understand the sexual component of marriage equality. They will in time, they don’t need more issues to concern themselves with at this young age. Kids today have enough stress. Concentrate on going back to basic politeness if there is budget $ enough to cover the 3R’s effectively.

    I will campaign against new taxes for our schools if our BOE goes in this direction. This is not appropriate, nor was it done with proper community involvement, and I believe that is because the community will not support the agenda a few are trying to push on all our students.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 20, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

  7. I will campaign against new taxes for our schools if our BOE goes in this direction

    ===================

    Both people who care what you think will vote against the next measure.

    Comment by Hjalmar — April 20, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

  8. The irony lies in the fact that the gays claim their agenda is to prevent name calling in kindergarten. Yet, they call anyone who does not want their child exposed to such sexual issues at the age of five a homophobic bigot … the hypocrisy amuses me. Maybe the gays need to attend some heterosexual sensitivity training … or at least try practicing what they preach 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 20, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

  9. Sooo…what do your gay friends think of this issue?

    Comment by Linda Hudson — April 20, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

  10. Oooo … are we’re supposed to be quaking in our boots, now that Kirwin is threatening to campaign against new taxes?

    Dude, look up “phony outrage” in the book you cite (Webster’s).

    Comment by alameda — April 20, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

  11. On the “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” curriculum being proposed to AUSD at upcoming BOE meetings:
    I am opposed to this outlandish proposal!
    AUSD needs to teach staff about handling name calling. If it is considered vital by the BOE, and if AUSD has ample funds, I encourage the advancement of staff facilitation skills, through seminars or workshops, for the purpose of further training for AUSD staff, including classified staff, to better learn how to prevent, or intervene whenever there is perceived harassment of anyone, by anyone on school grounds or during any school activity.
    Staff training should include all aspects of harassment recognized by law or decency, not just those based on perceived or actual sexual identity.
    Within all realms of AUSD activity, no discrimination, bullying, or harassment should ever be tolerated. I think it would be excellent if all AUSD employees were taught how to comfortably intervene using an established protocol, wherever they perceive acts of harassment. But this still has not been done. If any student is a “repetitive offender” perhaps they and/or their parents should be required to complete online workshops that would not be at significant cost to the District.
    For several years I volunteered to help put together floats for the Pride Parade in support of Marriage Equality for our friends. My wife and I took our kids to these Pride Parades most years and one year they even rode with the grand marshal. I am not homophobic; I just don’t want kids to have to deal with sexual behavior concepts years before they need to lose the blissful ignorance of those human concepts.
    I still see no reason for the District to go overboard addressing issues of sexual orientation & gender identity when there are a myriad of personal characteristics of equal importance, and myriad methods to teach respect and kindness without terms of adult sexual preferences listed as part of this proposal.
    Proponents of this agenda at public meeting cited District Goal # 3 as reason for this curriculum. Goal #3 states:
    “Ensure all students will be in educational environments that are safe and conducive to learning.”
    As I read District Goal #3 I see nothing about teaching Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (and I believe common sense dictates it would not be a curriculum to kindergarten and primary grades.)
    In fact, I 1st thought District Goal #3 was related to students’ physical safety as covered in the “Field Act” which governs safe school facilities.
    Also referenced to District Goal #3 in a public slideshow for this proposal is Penal Code 422.6 (A):
    California Penal Code
    PENAL CODE SECTION 422.6-422.95
    422.6. (a) No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person 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.
    When I read this I see nothing about teaching Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
    Why are GLBT interests elevated in priority over all the other protected human characteristics? It is not required by law, only suggested by a small, biased, self-selected group of AUSD staff, an activist gay district parent and several LGBT activist organizations who were employed to assemble this proposal. This is not a fair representation of our district’s parents, or of our community’s parcel tax payers. I am horrified that this is the way AUSD decided to approach this issue.
    The last referenced material related to “District Goal #3” is AB 537.
    This Assembly Bill added two new prohibited forms of discrimination to the existing prohibitions against discrimination and harassment in California public schools: actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. It in no way requires a curriculum like this one being proposed to AUSD.
    AB 537’s Advisory Task Forced also included the following non-binding recommendations:
    The task force reviewed state data, researched the issues, and held many discussions to develop recommendations in five theme areas: providing access to resources for students and staff about sexual orientation and gender identity issues and hate violence; developing research to identify issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and hate violence; creating accountability and enforcement guidelines at schools; providing advisory committee and staff support to monitor AB 537 provisions; and formulating state policy.
    When I read this I see nothing about teaching Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and certainly nothing about teaching it to as part of a curriculum to kindergarten and primary grades. Could it be that despite the lack of an adequate basic State education budget someone is trying to sell AUSD and our BOE, and the people of Alameda on the idea of stepping up the Bill’s intent to include far more than is the intent of AB 537?
    I urge the Superintendant and BOE to use good sense and vote no on this proposal, and perhaps initiate a balanced body to address this issue at an appropriate grade level.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 20, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

  12. Hi David,

    I’d like to encourage you to look at the actual curriculum being proposed. In it you’ll see that the “sexual component” of same-gender partnering is not discussed — i.e., there is no mention of desire, how gay or straight people “do it,” how babies are made, or anything related to the physical aspect of intimacy. I think all involved would agree that such topics are not age appropriate.

    Instead, the curriculum focuses on different families and the importance of accepting and including those types of families (as well as other children who may be feeling like outsiders). That IS age appropriate.

    As someone who has done noon supervising for six years at an elementary school — and who is working with the principal on developing an anti-bullying program there — I can assure you that many elementary school children are no strangers to words like “fag” and “gay.” They hear it from older siblings, from the media, and from their parents. And while I agree that one-on-one conversations with bullies are important, it is impossible to catch every instance of bullying that occurs on the schoolyard — there simply aren’t enough adults available.

    That’s why — I believe — having consistent programs in place to identify anti-gay bullying and teach better ways of relating is so important. We cannot deny that same-gender partnerships exist — our elementary school children have friends with same-gender parents and the struggle for marriage equality is all over the news. And even the most progressive of parents may be sending mixed messages — I noticed in your own post, for instance, that while you’ve brought your children to Pride Parades, you also emphasize that being “queer” is abnormal.

    That sort of confusion, on a societal level, is part of what allows anti-gay bullying to go unidentified and unchecked. Most children know that it’s not right to call African-American children the “N” word. Not all children understand that calling someone a “queer” or a “fag” is equally abusive and destructive.

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 21, 2009 @ 9:10 am

  13. Thank you, Susan.

    The preoccupation with people trying so hard to be “normal” or “in” that they must victimize someone else and make that person feel “abnormal”, “alien”, “outside”, “inferior” or any of those things is just plain SAD.

    And I know this from having been on the receiving end of this for most of my life. I ain’t gonna bitch and moan about it, though. You just try to bring up your own children the best you can on the golden rule.

    Hell, if you don’t want to play with someone, walk away. But don’t stand there and call them names!

    You can’t legislate love and care. That could be one of the problems with the right to life movement. I mean, you can force people to have unwanted children, but who’s gonna take care of them? Any of those elites with the big money pushing legislation? Not on your life!

    Love and care is something no one will pay for… it is a freebie, folks… do unto others is a freebie, and that is the only hope we all have for a better world.

    So, right on, y’all who are trying to train your children to the golden rule. Love and caring are free so they can be freely given.

    Comment by Jayne Smythe — April 21, 2009 @ 10:07 am

  14. “Hell, if you don’t want to play with someone, walk away. But don’t stand there and call them names!”

    Do you mean names like “bigot” and “homophobe”?

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 21, 2009 @ 10:28 pm

  15. Susan – I had taken the time to go to AUSD offices to review the curriculum and texts after the first meeting on this issue I attended at Earhart. I have bee to subsequent meetings at Earhart, Bay Farm and Otis where I lost respect for Ms Wong and realized that some of the ‘self selected’ AUSD staff are truly over-zealous and fanatical on this issue. I do not place trust or compassion in the sloe parent on that committee after he informed the group at Otis his concern stems from being an alcoholic and drug attic because of the way he felt unaccepted as a young gay man. Puulees – those things are exclusive of each other whether you believe sexual choice is innate, learned or freely chosen, alcoholism is still a disease not related to gender identity or sexual choice.

    As for the curriculum itself, it is faster for me to re-post an older summary;

    I think the district is being dishonest with the community & I do not like it at all.
    Because of the way the district is handling this sensitive situation drives me to the decision that I can not trust the district staff that are responsible for putting this together, or the board if they approve more than educating staff how to deal with what they refer to as Bullying.
    At the meeting held at Otis, xxxx xxxx was absolutely intolerant of all of us who had opinions differing from her own to such a degree that if she were my son’s teacher, I would pull him out of the school; I was stunned by her militant self-righteousness. I could not trust what or how she would teach her classes because of her obvious prejudices of teaching the morals as she sees fit.
    I truly applaud the decision of our superintendent to pause & seek some community involvement with this process.
    The decision provides some hope.
    It will be vitally important to examine exactly how the BOE & staff instruct the committee. It is my firm belief the curriculum committee must be re-formed to include not just the views on one side of the coin. This committee needs to be representative of the community, not just the gay and lesbian alliance. How would GLBT advocates feel if the BOE had sought advice solely from the Church of the Latter Day Saints?
    We must have inclusive representation on this committee.
    I attended a meeting at Earhart the week before the Otis meeting which was put together by the PTA when they learned the District had put a curriculum together, when last spring members of our PTA said they wanted to be involved and the
    District said they could be. It was clear our questions could not be answered, so the principle said Debbie Wong was willing to talk to us later in the week. Before she came, I spent about 40 minutes reviewing the teaching materials at AUSD offices. When Ms Wong came, she put off the parents who had expressed their desire to be heard before the materials were put together, and tried to tell us what the curriculum consisted of. Because I made notes when I reviewed the materials I pointed out to Ms Wong that in what she was telling our group, she was not including all the vocabulary words for K-3 curriculum as printed in the books they have chosen to propose as the ‘texts’. I thought this was a serious omission and explained that to her. I was horrified that at the presentation at Otis, when she again had not included the full list, leaving out the words that would most likely be the most objectionable.
    How can we trust the district with this kind of behavior from top administrators?
    The K-3 vocabulary in the proposed texts includes: gay, bullying, homosexual, lesbian, prejudice, stereotype, teasing. Also for Grade 3 from “That’s a Family” (pub by Women’s Educational Media, which is now known as “Groundspark”,) are the vocabulary words; gay, lesbian (defined with phrases as “loving in a romantic way”), separation/divorce, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender.
    The vocabulary for grades 4-5 includes: bisexual, closeted, coming out, dyke, fag, gay, GLBT, heterosexual, homophobia, homosexual, lesbian, outing, prejudice, queer, sexual orientation, stereotype, strait, teasing, and transgender. These are all sexually oriented words and should not be taught until such time that the district teaches ‘sex ed’ in the 5th grade.
    It is of great concern HOW these words would be taught, and that obviously depends who is doing the teaching. From the behavior of both the district and individual teachers so far, there is ample reason for deep concern by parents of young children.
    None of our children need to be taught this or any sexually related vocabulary at an early, pre-pubescent age to be taught not to be rude. Simple enough to teach that families can have more than one mom or dad and that they can be extended in other ways that could include grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, or friends. Many Native Americans lived in ‘tribes’ that could be considered as their families. We can provide the definition of “nuclear” families and explain that is only one version of what “family” means. – There is no necessity to teach young K-5 students about the sexual preferences of adults.
    I resent that to put together this curriculum committee, instead of collaborating with the public, the Staff solicited for volunteers from each elementary school staff – Is there any doubt that those who would volunteer may have motivation for doing so, like already wanting to promote LGBT issues? The district then hired a “coach” and if you go to Barry Chersky website you will learn Barry is a gay parent and long-time LGBTQ activist, who has been promoting that agenda at the San Leandro school district over 5 years, and worked with Debbie Wong there. The texts he has chosen are not from standard text book publishers, but rather from an LGBTQ activist organization “GroundSpark ” the organization that published “Its Elementary”, and was formerly known as Women’s Educational Media, the publisher of the other text the district is proposing for adoption. I am not certain but it seems there were other ‘non-AUSD’ program mentors from groups like PFLAG. While I am not opposed to using outside resources when needed or appropriate, there should be a balance of both sides on an issue to have a positive workable outcome.
    It is hard to fathom why the district would go to such an activist publisher except to meet someone’s agenda. There must be elementary school level anti-bullying texts from reputable, mainstream textbook publishers.
    I fear that the district is handling this so poorly because of the gay father in the district who is a stay-at-home dad with some “issues” and who has had the time to pursue his goal with the district for several years. There is a mistake in the policy goal as being presented to the public – the purpose of the “Safe School’s Bill, AB537 is to provide a safe environment, the goal is not to prevent any child from getting their feelings hurt, which is the unrealistic way the district staff are touting this agenda.
    I am grateful to that parent for voicing his concerns, issues and experience, but I don’t want to create an elementary school agenda because of it. Perhaps this curriculum would have helped him cope with his feelings, but just as likely if he got this sexually related information in high school it would have been more appropriate both for him and his peers. Bullying in schools should still be prevented at all ages, and people are free to choose their friends at all ages. Tragically, a few years ago a Berkeley High School student died during an ice hockey game, many football players damage their knees, – all sports and even ballet can lead to permanent physical and emotional scars, but that is accepted as part of life’s experience. We can’t ban all sports or other activities because the inability to predict the future for every individual will lead to some really regrettable situations.
    I also oppose the expressing of the view of some of the speakers at the Otis meeting – that people are “born gay”. While it may be a believed impression in some instances, even the district’s proposed texts talk about people changing their preference or sexual orientation in college and some of my friends reconsidered their preference in their 40’s . We could debate a lot of points such as the varying hormonal balance in each and every person, the effects on nurture vs. nature, but the bottom line for me will be that all of our personal relationships, sexual or non-sexual, are all personal choice. We may not get to choose our family or all our work relationships for example, but we do choose our fiends, and we do choose our sexual partners.
    Because the LGBTQ issues all revolve around choice of sexual partners, it should not be taught until sex ed is taught.
    Anti-bullying, anti-teasing, anti-prejudice should be taught from the earliest grades while leaving sexually related issues out of the K-4 classrooms as the district currently does. I think it fair to say that because I perceive the district as acting in a distrustful manner, that should this continue I will actively campaign against any future parcel taxes to support the district. As Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
    While I consider my self a friend to the lesbian and gay community I do not believe the district is respecting the rights of all members of the community with the way they are handling this agenda, and that it is conceding to a small activist group who are placing their moral views on others who don’t share those personal views or want then taught to their young children. I understand the Superintendent and Board majority are brand new and had little or nothing to do with planning this agenda. I also know most of you said you were good community collaborators during your campaigns. The way the next set of meetings is promoted and handled on this issue will be an important lesson for the community of voters.
    Again, I thank you for your time as we try to keep teaching our children to be kind, tolerant, and able to be educated to the highest world standards.

    It is evident from the many reports on playground name calling that district staff is not meeting to existing BOE policies (from around 2001 – Something along the lines that ‘every AUSD employee must interceed to prevent name calling and bullying.’ – If staff won’t do that now – what will change,?) We need to teach or force staff to meet existing policy, not create another new curriculum.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 22, 2009 @ 12:46 am

  16. #14

    Describing someone as a bigot or homophobe isn’t name calling if there is evidence to support the description. It is different than using ethnic, racial or sexual slurs. Someone can make a false claim that someone is a bigot or a homophobe, but that can be shown to be not true. One cannot counter a slur by providing evidence to the contrary.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — April 22, 2009 @ 6:33 am

  17. “Describing someone as a bigot or homophobe isn’t name calling if there is evidence to support the description.”

    Does that mean we should call you a douche bag if there is evidence to support the description?

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 22, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  18. 17. No, but maybe we could call you one sick puppy… Get some help, man.

    Comment by E T — April 22, 2009 @ 8:12 am

  19. J.R.T. is beyond help, but at least he doesn’t ramble on forever in each of his sick posts. J.P.

    Comment by John Piziali — April 22, 2009 @ 8:35 am

  20. Try not to get so angry Pizzaalley … you and your little “apprentice” can express your love for each other in any manner your hearts desire. No one is trying to take away your rights as consenting adults. Just keep your “gay is great” agenda out of our schools … it isn’t healthy for the kids.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 22, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  21. Calm down Jeffery your starting to ramble. You almost put together a paragraph. Your “Gay is Great” friend. J.P.

    Comment by John Piziali — April 22, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  22. You bring up an interesting point about vocabulary, David (#15). I was kind of surprised when I read your comment, because I don’t have any discomfort with using words like “gay” or “lesbian” around my elementary school-aged children.

    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.

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 23, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  23. Susan,

    My mom’s cousin is gay. The guy is now 96 years old, and in fact he grew up in Alameda. I assume his time here was in the closet. He is a sophisticated and talented guy who graduated from Stanford, was on the fencing team, served out of NAS Alameda during WWII and then had a career at an oil company. He is artistic and did pottery as a hobby and has also lived with another man for over 45 years. My mom’s older sister was a classical musician, and being the same age as their gay cousin my aunt and he were close. (The partner of 45 years is also a musician.) I heard glowing references to talented Uncle “Anonymous” between my mother and aunt for my entire life.

    I never recall hearing any words including gay or homosexual being used to refer to sexuality, but when alluding to this cousin and his living companion there was something being telegraphed by the adults discussing them. Namely their own discomfort or confusion at what was never discussed openly.

    If a person using the words lesbian or gay has a lot of baggage around what those words imply for them, any child will pick up on it because it’s telegraphed even without using nouns. Though not as harmful as hate speech, weird vibes can be harmful too.

    Should we force all LGTB people back in the closet so the rest of us supposedly normal people don’t have to deal with being made to feel uncomfortable by somebody different? One might like to think that’s possible but even when we seemed to get away with it, it has never been so nor will it ever be.

    Comment by M.I. — April 23, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

  24. Susan, you and I are different. I think words like gay, lesbian and homosexual have much more meaning than words like friends, or even boyfriend/girl friend. You cannot claim that there is not a sexual element to words like gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender which are terms listed in the curriculum proposal for K-3.

    The K-3 vocabulary in the proposed texts includes: gay, bullying, homosexual, lesbian, prejudice, stereotype, teasing. Also for Grade 3 from “That’s a Family” are the vocabulary words; gay, lesbian, separation/divorce, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender.

    The vocabulary for grades 4-5 includes: bisexual, closeted, coming out, dyke, fag, gay, GLBT, heterosexual, homophobia, homosexual, lesbian, outing, prejudice, queer, sexual orientation, stereotype, strait, teasing, and transgender. These are all sexually oriented words and should not be taught until such time that the district teaches ’sex ed’ in the 5th grade.

    It is also of great concern HOW these words would be taught which obviously depends who is doing the teaching, and what their motivation and experiences are. From the behavior of both the district administrative personal pushing this agenda, and individual teachers who have argued with me against my beliefs, I see ample reason for concern by parents if this agenda were to be “released without controls’.

    There is a statement on the AUSD website that the Superintendent will release a revision of the curriculum proposal tomorrow to be discussed as an informational item at next Tues. BOE meeting. I have great anticipation and hope in my heart that it will include cutting – perhaps prohibiting the sexually related vocabulary until sex-ed classes (5th grade), and also provide an opt-out for parents who are overly concerned about this issue or the stance of the related teachers.

    None of our children need to be taught this present proposed curriculum or any sexually related vocabulary at an early, pre-pubescent age to be taught not to be rude. Simple enough to teach respect, that character matters, and that families can have more than one mom or dad and that they can also be extended in other ways that could include grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, or friends. Many Native Americans lived in ‘tribes’ that could be considered as their families. We can provide the definition of “nuclear” families and explain that is only one version of what “family” means. – There is no necessity to promote or prompt K-4 students to think about the sexual preferences of adults.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 23, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

  25. #24 Regarding the discussion about vocabulary, I understand that the curriculum is undergoing some revisions so that some of the words that you find so offensive will be omitted or not introduced until a later grade.

    But with respect to the list of words you find objectionable and “sexually oriented,” I find it interesting that you’ve included the words “bullying,” “prejudice,” “stereotype” and “teasing” among the verboten “sexually oriented” terms. And what — no one is supposed to acknowledge separation and divorce in a classroom?

    Not everyone is the Cleaver family, and the Cleaver family wouldn’t want it that way.

    Comment by June Cleaver — April 23, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  26. The idea is to nurture our children to understand that all people, no matter where they come from, who their partners are, what kind of family they have, what if any religion they practice, what color their hair, skin, tatoos, etc… all people are equal and should be treated fairly, equally and with respect. No double standards! If the curriculum doesn’t cover all the bases, but focuses in one area to the exclusion of others, than that is a mistake. Just as many people are taunted or belittled for practicing certain religions or for not looking hip as are for appearing to be gay or lesbian, and with equally as bad consequences for the person!

    Comment by E T — April 23, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

  27. http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/23/bullying.suicide/index.html

    Comment by Andy Currid — April 23, 2009 @ 10:48 pm

  28. And, sadly, another:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/Story?id=7328091&page=1

    Comment by Susan Davis — April 23, 2009 @ 10:59 pm

  29. There are many, many, too many places to read about teen suicide. The issues can be controversial and a lot of it has to do with lobbying.

    I maintain what I said in #26. It should not be about putting a spot light on one possible issue alone; this does not nurture our young people to respect all life.

    I knew a girl who had an eating disorder and almost killed herself; she hated herself, and even though she had gotten help, she still hated herself! A guy at my high school hung himself during by accident during what was ruled as an act of erotic asphyxiation.

    It is rather patronizing to boil it all down to one thing and make it all about one kind of bullying. Kids are bullied because they are smart, shy, different, because they lisp, because they are fat or too thin, because of their race, their religion–you name it kids are bullied for many reasons. If any of you WEREN’T bullied at sometime during your school years, let’s hear about it. THAT is the UNUSUAL occurence.

    Sometimes the bullying leads to suicide, but there are many factors involved with that. But bullying is not the only reason a young person might have suicidal feelings, substance or sexual abuse factors into the statistics quite a lot.

    For every suicide that is claimed to have been committed by a student who identified as G,L,T or B, there is a student who has identified as heterosexual who committed suicide because of taunting accusations of being G,L,T or B.

    Humanity is so very primitive and tribal, and has never outgrown that nature.

    If we want the human race to continue, we need to focus on joining together as a global family, not lobbing taunts, epithets or bombs at one another.

    The need to control the watering hole and the wheat field will soon bring an end to humanity, unless we deal with our primitive nature by nurturing kindness with understanding and the basic recognition that we are ALL PEOPLE and being a person of distinction, whatever that may be, is GOOD.

    http://townhall.com/Columnists/JaniceShawCrouse/2007/06/13/teen_suicide_a_matter_of_%E2%80%9Csexual_orientation%E2%80%9D_or_sex_abuse

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_suicide

    Comment by E T — April 24, 2009 @ 10:23 am

  30. Good news … the word is out that the Gay Agenda curriculum will not be implemented this year in the Alameda School District. The school board are going “delay implementation” so that they can “further study the issue.” I am glad that they have finally come to their senses 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 24, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  31. JRT – There already is, and has been, a ‘LGBTQ agenda” taught to AUSD kids. – It started LAST YEAR without parental notification or consent. –
    Where have ya been? But don’t get all a-tizzy about the past, just learn from it.

    It is my understanding that AUSD does intend to begin teaching the new proposed curriculum -n the 09-10 school year – that means starting this fall. If you have other info, please tell.

    As for the revised curriculum outline posted today on the AUSD website – I am greatly relieved in many ways. I think this will have much greater support, in fact probably widespread and overwhelming support.

    According to the revised plan the only sexually related vocabulary to be used are “gay”, “lesbian”, and “LGBT”, and only in the 4th grade level.

    I intend to express my heartfelt relief at the BOE meeting with the district’s commitment to not use/teach these terms before the 4th grade – and that “gay” and “lesbian” will not be defined as terms relating to sex, only relationships, to whatever degree that is possible.

    I am still concerned and puzzled as to how and why “LBGT” will be defined and used. This is still a stumbling block for fully embracing the way AUSD is trying to achieve the goal, or perhaps I will have the superintendent explain this in terms of the goal. Why teach the terms bisexual and transgender prior to classes on human sexuality which begin in grade 5?

    The other major concern that comes up as a result of this controversy is how name calling and bullying are to be handled on AUSD property, or related events and outings. Obviously this type of harassment does not stop in the primary grades, it continues thru high school where effects can be more drastic. How will staff be trained and obligated to deal with it? This really is important; there has to be a written program understood by all; a protocol obligating all staff to deal with name calling, bullying, harassment. It’s easier and non-threatening in elementary school, but how does staff deal with the larger and more aggressive young adults in our upper grades? Yet this is the age that has the increased harassment-related beatings and suicide rate. This is an important consideration that neither the earlier “Sex & Gender” curriculum addressed, yet seems like the main goal voiced by the proponents of the original agenda or curriculum.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 24, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

  32. At the April 28th BOE meeting staff will be providing an update http://www.mikemcmahon.info/BOE042809Lesson9Update.pdf on the addition of a lesson to the Elementary School Caring School Curriculum. It will be third item on the agenda and the staff presentation should start at approximately 7:30pm. After this evening presentation there will be public hearing at the May 12th BOE meeting and staff recommendation made at the May 26th BOE meeting.

    The presentation at the April 28th will cover the revisions and reformatting of the lessons initially presented at the February community meetings. Each grade level will have one specific lesson with a scripted vocabulary and will take approximately 45 minutes. The lesson will taught once in the first trimester of the school year.

    You can review the revised grade level lessons here: http://www.mikemcmahon.info/LGBTCurriculum.htm#revisedlessons

    Comment by Mike McMahon — April 24, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  33. Mike,

    Aside from the few typos and incomplete sentences in the lesson plans posted on the AUSD site, is it possible for changes to be made, or for teachers to include vocabulary words not listed but which were part of the prior version of the curriculum?

    Is there a commitment, or will the BOE request / require a commitment by AUSD to NOT include the vocabulary which so many parents felt were inappropriate for the K-5 age levels in the earlier version?

    My fear is that this is the same curriculum but just like the vocabulary omissions made by Assistant Superintendent Debbie Wong at the earlier public meetings the district may be making omissions to what is actually part of the curriculum at these presentations.

    Will the BOE require the complete curriculum as revised, and the texts, to be available for public review from the April 28 meeting to the May 12 meeting? After all it was only by reviewing the full curriculum at the District offices that the public was able to see was Ms Wong was not including in her presentations to the public.

    Also, I’m hoping your memory is better,- and it would save me time looking up the BOE Policy # whereby the BOE requires all staff to take action whenever name calling or bullying takes place. Will the District or Board be examining how to make that happen, especially at higher grades?

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 25, 2009 @ 9:53 am

  34. Even though I am offended and disgusted at AUSD’s attempt to force this material upon families without giving them the choice to opt out, I have to commend Mike McMahon for at least making an attempt to keep the public informed as this dicey issue works its way through the Board. We are still going to vote any board member who supports this stripping away of family rights out of office, but Mike has put forth an effort to make this process as transparent as possible and I commend him for that.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — April 26, 2009 @ 8:06 am

  35. DK, my guess is that you are asking for the moon. People won’t put themselves out to teach kids other than their own about how to be nice.

    Whether it says so in the BOE docs or not, it won’t happen.

    Your best line of defense is good parenting. You cannot ask teachers to parent, or volunteers. They have enough to do and they are not being paid well enough to do that!

    I have been to city parks where I have seen kids and their parents together. I have seen, sometimes, kids rip branches off trees! Parents watching and not saying anything.

    I have addressed children at such times, and I have seen their parents look at me with wide eyes (but didn’t say anything to me or contradict my actions)–it obviously never occurred to them that their purpose in being there was to interact with their kids (and possibly to monitor and correct)… to ensure that trees are not ripped to shreds, and such. I had the gumption to speak up, and maybe it wasn’t appreciated, but there you go. At least the kids stopped destroying something for 30 minutes.

    So, what I am suggesting is that this “Safe Schools” program may be well intentioned, but is ultimately wheel spinning, and likely to be ineffective. I think it is laudable that they are making the attempt, however!

    Children learn how to treat their peers and other adults AT HOME, not at school.

    People keep saying “teachers must this and teachers must that”, but don’t pay or empower them to do half of what is demanded. The schools were never meant to parent children, and it is unfortunate that parents expect that.

    Comment by E T — April 26, 2009 @ 8:16 am


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