Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 23, 2012

“Airbrushing history”

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Last week, Reverend Laura Rose wrote an excellent letter to the editor regarding School Boardmember Trish Spencer and the LGBT curriculum that was under much scrutiny a few years ago:

Dear Editor,
Remember where we have come from! That is an important mantra for different classes of people who have endured the pain of exclusion and discrimination. This should also be a mantra for all of us in Alameda who worked hard to ensure that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students and families would be given equal visibility in our AUSD K-5 curriculum as one of the six protected classes under California law. As we consider the records of those running for School Board, it is critical that we remember that there was one school board member, Trish Herrera Spencer, who steadfastly aligned herself with those were strongly opposed to the inclusion of lessons that would give equal visibility to LGBT families and students. Recently, Ms. Spencer has made public statements that she was a supporter of the LGBT curriculum. But those of us who spent hours and hours attending Board of Education meetings listening to Ms. Spencer presenting objection after objection know this is not the case. I am aware that the teacher’s association has endorsed Ms. Spencer, and although I am supportive of the teacher’s union and A.U.S.D. teachers, Ms. Spencer will not have my vote.
Laura Rose

I’m republishing it here because the link on Alameda Journal keeps removing the letter for some reason.

Presently, Trish Spencer and her supporters are going on the defensive and trying to explain her “no” votes on the anti-bullying curriculum.

However, while Trish Spencer can take credit for voting for the expanded curriculum for one hot second, her reversal of that vote was quick and immediate when she found out that Lesson 9 would still be included until the expanded curriculum was in place, she eventually voted no on the expanded curriculum.   This timeline has been heavily circulated on Facebook with supporting links.

With respect to my friends who support Trish Spencer for School Board (or are friends with her), I’d like to clarify her record on our district’s anti-bullying campaign. Ms. Spencer is saying today that she voted “yes” on the more inclusive anti-bullying curriculum developed in the fall of 2009. Technically this was true, for about a half hour. Here is the full record of her votes on our anti-bullying curricula:

1. Ms. Spencer voted “no” on Lesson 9 (aimed at children of gay families) on 5/26/09.

2. After a community advisory group and a teachers’ group developed a new, more expansive program (covering children in all six legally protected classes), she voted “yes” on it, briefly, at the 12/08/09 Board of Ed meeting.

3. About a half hour later, when she learned that Lesson 9 was still included in the program (because the board was going to implement the curriculum in stages), she voted “no” on the curriculum. (Her final vote, in other words, was a “no.”)

4. On April 13, 2010, she also voted “no” on the recommended list of literature for the newly expanded anti-bullying program.

So of the four total votes on the district’s anti-bullying curricula, Ms. Spencer voted “no” three times and reversed her sole “yes” vote within an hour.

It’s interesting that Trish Spencer now is characterizing her “no” vote on April 2010 as a result of “members of several protected classes express[ing] concerns of how they and their children were being depicted in the proposed literature:

When you review the minutes from that meeting, there are few comments that support that statement by Trish Spencer. I’ve pulled out the comments against the books:

All of the comments against the books and the curriculum focused on the topic of LGBT issues and how they didn’t want the “lifestyle of homosexuals to be given visibility in this community” or speaks about “homosexual proselyting” or speaks to these issues as “interfering with normal childhood development” or calling it “homosexual and transgender behavior acceptance training”.   Other than the guy worried about there not being enough books about boys and men succeeding in tradition pursuits and the woman who was appreciative that the African American books about slavery were removed from the book list, there is nothing about how kids are depicted.

Here’s the thing:  I totally get why some groups and people are supporting Trish Spencer.  I just wish folks wouldn’t change the narrative on her vote and support (or lack thereof) of this particular issue in order to bolster her as a candidate.   If you want to like Trish Spencer because you think she’ll be the only School Board member to take on the Superintendent: fine.  Awesome.  More power to you.   But don’t change the narrative from the reality that people who went through the process, participated in, and witnessed in order to justify your support of a candidate and the reality that exists in black and white on her record.


  1. I either sat through or watched from home every one of the board meetings having to do with Lesson 9 and the expanded anti-bullying program. I was also a member of the community advisory group that – together with a group of AUSD teachers – helped develop the new curriculum. Nothing in Ms. Spencer’s votes, words, or actions during those meetings communicated support for LGBT issues. Quite the opposite! She appeared very much determined to fight any mention of LGBT in the curricula tooth and nail.

    This controversy was personally and politically very difficult for many of us who were involved. The gay community members who spoke up in support of the lessons (and their straight allies) were accused of being perverse, unnatural, and disgusting and of being part of an agenda to sexualize young children and even co-opt them into becoming gay.. Ms. Spencer did not ever stand up for those of us subject to those attacks. As such, it pains me greatly to hear people who weren’t following this issue three years ago now claim that Ms. Spencer couldn’t possibly have opposed these lessons. Our experience — and the record — tells a very different story.

    By the way, the people that Trish DID stand up for, quoted above, were members of two local groups. The Woods led a group called S.E.R.V.E. that believed that homosexuals (and their supporters) had an agenda to destroy traditional marriages. S.E.R.V.E. led the attempt to recall board members Tam, Mooney, and Jensen for their support of the anti-bullying curriculum. (Ms. Spencer never spoke out against this recall effort.) The Cooks led a group called Alameda Concerned Parents, which posited that gays could be cured with therapy. With the support of the Pacific Justice Institute, the Cooks also led a lawsuit against the district claiming it was legally required to let families “opt out” of the lessons. That lawsuit failed.

    Both groups claimed they weren’t “anti-gay.”

    Comment by Susan Davis — October 23, 2012 @ 8:24 am

  2. Please stop the hypocrisy!
    No group has been more involved in harrassing and persecuting the LGBT more than Religion or Church anywhere in the world regardless of the race or faith and still do .Ohh it’s election Time !

    Comment by mijoka — October 23, 2012 @ 9:01 am

  3. I am so thankful the truth is being told. The journey has be long, my children loved and proud! Justice prevails!

    Comment by Sean Cahill — October 23, 2012 @ 11:33 am

  4. 2. Not all churches or people of faith have persecuted others and the Rev. Laura Rose is speaking from an authentic and Biblical perspective rather than “election time” motives when she supports the LGBTQ community–just as many parts of the Christian church in the United States were in the forefront of the abolition movement and the civil rights struggles.

    Religious organizations and institutions–like any human organization–are fallible and have been misused to oppress and demean others many times.(This is not Biblically justifiable, nor should such oppression be condoned by anyone.) The same claim can be leveled at political parties, civic and fraternal organizations, legislatures, and more….

    In this case, however, many churches in Alameda and elsewhere, witnessing to the truth of their traditions, are following Biblical principles of justice and compassion when they support anti-bullying efforts–and when they speak to the truth of political candidates’ records in opposition to protecting members of oppressed communities and bullied children.

    History is one thing but remember what is going on NOW in local mainline churches and faith communities. Mijoka’s dismissive line is far from an accurate representation of many churches’ CURRENT stances and actions on behalf of oppressed, “protected,” and underserved classes and those actions are NOT motivated by the apparently “base” political motives Mijoka falsely ascribes to them.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 23, 2012 @ 11:39 am

  5. I will direct my comment to the Teachers Union in Alameda, in your pursuit of the superintendent and some school board members you have chosen to support Trish Spencer for our school board. After what she did on the Lesson 9 issue I can’t believe that you are willing to sell your soul to the devil just to gain control of our school board. As long as you support her you will receive no support from me, or a lot of other Alamedans. I may have issues with some decisions that our board makes but these issues don’t even come close to sending me in a direction to vote for Trish Spencer or to support a union that is trying for a power grab of our elected school board. You may feel that the school board has failed you, however I feel that you have failed your members.

    Comment by John P.(L) — October 23, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  6. Lauren thanks for the post. I’m unsure what is more troubling, Spencer’s refusal to stand up for an LGBT anti-bullying curriculum that teachers, parents and students asked for because of problems that were occurring in our schools, or her claim that she supported it.

    It would seem that her false assertions of her past actions hint at the fact that she is aware her stance on the issue was not the right one and a desire to pretend that she had done the right thing.

    Comment by jkw — October 23, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

  7. Trish Spencer should follow an anti-gay pastor’s example. Pastor Phil Snider makes the parallels between racism and homophobia crystal clear, and understands that his interpretation of the Bible should not be a part of government. “When our Constitution says “liberty and justice for all,” it means ALL. That is the true definition of freedom.” If Trish does not get this, she has no business being on our school board.

    Comment by BarbaraK — October 24, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  8. So why are you running on same slate as Trish???

    Comment by Jack Schultz — October 24, 2012 @ 11:47 am

  9. #7 If this is Barbara Kahn who is running for school I believe it is critically important for the children of our community that you identify yourself here and stand tall by the statement you have made.

    Comment by Karry Kelley — October 24, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

  10. The commenter who uses “BarbaraK” is not Barbara Kahn.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 25, 2012 @ 6:44 am

  11. 1, 5, 7: I agree with John Piziali in his assessment of the current teacher’s union (AEA) leadership–or, as I see it, the repeated failure of its officers and negotiators to provide principled leadership, despite any provocations from AUSD officials.

    I also heartily endorse BarbaraK’s theological perspective on the civil rights basis on which people of faith need to approach the anti-bullying policies needed to protect the families and students of ALL classes who I have seen victimized by bullying on the school yards of AUSD schools. If we are teaching our children morally appropriate principles about family life, gender, and sexuality at home and in our houses of worship there is no need to oppose efforts to promote justice and eliminate the oppression that is bullying.

    The other theological issue of concern to me is that we should never bear false witness. The factual content of most opponents of Lesson 9–including their slanted presentation of Biblical truth–was severely lacking, as Susan Davis and others have repeatedly pointed out.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 25, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  12. I strongly suspect that the Barbara Kahn who is running would whole-heartedly concur with the sentiments of individual freedom & equality expressed by the poster BarbaraK.

    If that assumption is accurate, it’s worth asking the candidate Barbara Kahn why she is running with a dishonest homophobe who doesn’t live up to the standards of post 7. If you’re reading this, Ms. Kahn, please tell us.

    Comment by Jack Schultz — October 25, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  13. If Barbara Kahn purports to have enough knowledge to serve on our school board, then she surely knew about Trish Spencer’s embrace of the positions taken by the anti-LGBT bigots. Ms Kahn (along with Jon Murphy) nevertheless allowed herself to be allied with Ms Spencer on the slate constructed by the AEA’s leadership, and since she entered the race, Ms. Kahn has made no effort to distance herself from the AEA leadership’s slate. Any effort by Ms Kahn to distance herself now should be seen for what it is — a move for political expediency and not a stand based on principle.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — October 25, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

  14. SLATES! Hate ’em or Love ’em, but either way, voters should always do their OWN homework: (pssst, Do’s done it for you again)

    Comment by labryon — October 25, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  15. To highlight the info labyron is sharing:
    Barbara Kahn and Jon Murphy are not running on a slate. They happen to be two of three candidates endorsed by the Alameda Education Association. Barbara Kahn reports not receiving funds from the AEA.

    Comment by Michael Williams — October 26, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

  16. Post 15, your statement is true, she has received no funds from the AEA. However their statement on the city website says that they have spent about $6,000.00 in campaign funds (non monetary) on her campaign. So yes they are definatly supporting her.

    Comment by John P.(L) — October 27, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    • Understood that they’re supporting her. My point was that she didn’t choose to organize a slate with Trish Spencer.

      Comment by Michael Williams — October 27, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

  17. She may not have chosen to be on a slate with Trish Spencer, but she has participated in activities as if she was a member of a slate with Spencer. She posed for pictures with Spencer and Murphy; she appeared at a rally with Spencer and Murphy; and she has (without perceptible protest) allowed herself to appear on yard signs and campaign literature as part of a slate with Spencer and Murphy. So even though she may not have organized the slate, she has put herself in a position where it’s reasonable to assume that she condoned being part of a slate with Spencer and Murphy.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — October 28, 2012 @ 7:55 am

  18. Let’s go the replay booth and watch the video:

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — November 3, 2012 @ 10:33 am

  19. I just watched the entire video and Trish Spencer clearly votes “no” on keeping lesson 9.

    Comment by John P.(L) — November 3, 2012 @ 10:55 am

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