A neighbor reports that she just got a phone call in which she was asked to answer a series of automated survey questions. Below is her best recollection of what she was asked:
Do you care about education in Alameda schools?
Do you believe that a curriculum explaining lesbian, gay and transgender issues should be allowed in the Alameda school district?
Do you think gay, lesbian and transgender are appropriate vocabulary to be teaching at the elementary school level?
Do you that marriage only between one man and one woman should be allowed in California?
(This last one is really confusing.)
She says she thinks there was one more substantive question and then the recorded voice asked two bits of demographic info. One, if she was 50 or older and, two, if she was male. The call came from a Washington, D.C. area code and was conducted by a survey company (she didn’t catch the name). Perhaps you too have received such a call? Perhaps you too will receive such a call?
So, once again, an Alameda debate has hit the regional news. And the Christian right has picked up the story and run with it. There’s also a lot of heated rhetoric swirling around (check out the comments on this Blogging Bayport post).
I have to confess that the whole debate about this tiny piece of AUSD curriculum makes me sad and weary. It surprises me that in this day and age, in the Bay Area, that we are still so hostile to difference, so obsessed with other people’s sex lives, so afraid of ourselves and the world and others. What the AUSD curriculum aims to do is teach reality: that all families (the majority of families, in fact) don’t look like the Cleavers. Families have all sorts of configurations, incorporating grandparents and cousins, step-siblings and stepfathers, same gender couples and opposite gender couples. That is reality. We can not like it, but, in reality, families have great variety.
The curriculum also aims to address another reality: that kids can be cruel, and they can torment and tease and poke and prod so severely as to destroy lives (just look at suicide rates for gay and lesbian youth). And it is incumbent on us as a society to protect our children, all our children. Pretending that acceptance and cruelty are not serious school issues helps no one.
With all the fervor, tonight’s school board meeting is sure to be a heated one. But if we can remember the basics, live and let live, do onto others, love thy neighbor, I think we can put this in its proper place and move on, continuing on with our work and household chores and other duties and obligations…We can continue on with the life basics shared by and important to all families regardless of their configuration. Because, despite everything, we are all a whole lot more alike than we are different.
It would have been hard not to notice that there’s been a lot of heated discussion in Alameda about a proposed addition to the Alameda Unified School District’s anti-bullying curriculum. The Alameda Journal last week ran comments in support and against it.
Local Blogger Lauren Do has been tracing what specifically the curriculum will look like. And, for those of you interested, you can always find heated discussion in the comments on Do’s blog. Sometimes commentors make sense, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’re nasty and contradictory, sometimes they’re not.
Opposition to the proposed curriculum runs the gamut. From those who believe that homosexuality is a sin, to those who fear that sexual terms will be introduced at too young an age. You can see all the lessons here. The Rev. Laura Rose, pastor of Alameda’s First Congregational Church, wrote this in a letter to the editor:
For those who object to this sort of curriculum on the basis that it is against a specific set of religious or moral beliefs, I would simply say that respect and tolerance for all people as children of God is the unifying and core principle of every world religion.
But more importantly, equality is the core principle of our Constitution and I believe a curriculum that enables children to see all people (and themselves) in a positive light is critical to AUSD’s mission of making Alameda a safe and welcoming place for all children and all families.
You can read Rose’s whole letter here (though you must scroll down). Happy Monday.
The latest word from the Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay group based in Kansas, is that they will not be protesting in Alameda tomorrow night. According to their web site, they will be protesting at Barack Obama’s grandmother’s funeral in Hawaii instead. There is a pro-gay rights protest, planned in concert with protests nationwide, Saturday morning, 10:30 a.m. at Alameda City Hall.
Word is that the anti-gay group “God Hates Fags” is planning a protest of this Friday’s Alameda High School production of The Laramie Project. The play is about Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998. The protest, according to the group’s web site, is planned for 6:45 p.m., just before the show opens at Alameda High’s Little Theatre.
“God Hates Fags,” a project of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, is responsible for many other similar protests in the United States and Canada. (The Westboro Baptist Church is monitored as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and is not know to be affiliated with any other Baptist Churches.)
Here’s details on a counter protest.