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There can be no greater stretch of arbitrary power than is required to seize children from their parents, teach them whatever the authorities decree they shall be taught, and expropriate from the parents the funds to pay for the procedure. If this principle really is not understood, let any parent holding a positive religious faith consider how it would seem to him if his child were taken by force and taught an opposite creed. Would he not recognize tyranny naked?
Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine (1993 Transaction Publishers edition, pp.255-6.)
Every schoolchild deserves the utmost protection from emotional and physical bullying. Never should a child fear for his safety upon entering a school building. Yet how should parents ensure the safety of their children? Does it make sense to depend upon the biggest bully on the block for shelter from other bullies?
During the 1999-2000 legislative session, a bill was proposed in the California legislature that, among other things, would have added homosexuals to the list of groups protected by hate-crime laws and would have prohibited the teaching of what could be considered anti-homosexual material in the state’s school curricula. Despite sporting the unreproachable title “The Dignity for All Students Act” (AB 222), the bill was opposed by Christian parents’ rights groups and could not pass as introduced.
Later in that legislative session, openly homosexual State Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-41st district) proposed a second bill that seemed a compromise — “The California Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000” (AB 537). This successful bill, passed and signed by Governor Gray Davis in October 1999, added to the list of hated personal characteristics protected from hate criminals — actual or perceived — homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderality (I made that word up, but you get the idea). Further, no educational institution in the state that receives government money may discriminate on the basis of the above characteristics, although church-run schools are exempt “if the application would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.” Finally, the law says that it does not require changes in curricula, textbooks, presentations or other materials, so that the contentious section of AB 222 was stricken from this latter bill and the legislature’s intentions on curriculum were clarified.
In January of this year, California Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin convened a 36-member task force to draft recommendations on implementing AB 537. At that time, the Department of Education did not make the task-force meeting and its recommendations public but someone in the department let Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) in on the secret. CRI posted the AB 537 Task Force recommendations and an analysis on their website. Eastin made the recommendations public on April 11, 2001. I made several attempts over the past three months to obtain my own copy of these recommendations and to find out who the 36 members are to no avail. Then, just as I was finishing this article, I received a fax of the report with a sticker on the cover saying, “Embargoed until April 11.”
Highlights from the task-force recommendations include:
- The establishment of a permanent advisory committee comprised of everyone with the notable exception of parents to guide the ongoing AB 537 program (Recommendation 6).
- The establishment of a corps of AB 537 compliance officers, i.e. homosexual hate-crime thought police (Recommendation 7).
- The use of tax dollars for a media campaign to sell the homosexual curriculum to the public (Recommendation 5).
- In a section that is reminiscent of communist dictatorships, a Training Subcommittee is to create “grade-level appropriate visual images inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities for use in common areas of schools throughout the school year” (Recommendation 3).
- The encouragement and support of groups such as the specifically named Gay-Straight Alliances. Also to “[develop] student leadership in creating safe schools for all students through mentoring, leadership training, positive recognition, and financial support for student-led prevention efforts.” This could also be known as the capo-training program (Recommendation 2).
- In one of the loonier recommendations, the advisory committee is to come up with recommendations for dealing with locker-room, rest-room and dress-code issues for cross-dressers. Or I should say “gender-variant youths” (Recommendation 11).
- Most significantly, the committee would “[acknowledge] lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender historical figures, events, concepts, and issues in the revisions of content standards and curriculum frameworks, when appropriate. Identify and expand the available lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resources for school-library materials.” Note a change from the original version posted by CRI, the addition of the qualifier “where appropriate” to this statement (Recommendation 8).
If I weren’t such a level-headed person who believes the course of mankind progresses somewhat aimlessly, punctuated by one amazing coincidence after another, I might be inclined to surmise that AB 537 was carefully crafted to placate and confuse the opposition of religious Christians, Jews and Muslims while providing a vehicle for the homosexual agenda to be carried out unhampered, behind closed doors and by regulatory fiat as a fait accompli.
In response to the prospect of a homosexual curriculum for California’s schools, both Capitol Resource Institute and Pacific Justice Institute have provided opt-out forms. This is a statement to be signed by parents and submitted to the schools informing the administrators that their children must be removed from the classroom when material about homosexuality is presented. Quite frankly, this is a wholly ineffectual comeback.
With the entire curriculum interwoven with homosexual happy talk, and homosexual posters adorning the school walls, would it be possible to implement such a request on a practical basis? Can the schools be trusted to follow through? And if they did, wouldn’t Johnny be parked in the opt-out study hall all day long?
Although I find some of their tactics deplorable, even despicable, I will not impugn the motives on either side in this conflict. Homosexuals, I think, believe that unless children from an early age — six, in fact — are inculcated with positive messages about homosexuality, these children will become a threat to homosexuals or, if homosexual themselves, will be inclined toward mental health problems or possibly suicide. Religious people of many faiths believe that homosexuality is sinful and therefore they must prevent positive information and images of homosexuality reaching their children, just as they would block positive images of thieves or adulterers.
Quite obviously, between the two camps there can be no common ground. None. Period.
And no stalemate, either, for these are winner-take-all battles. In any struggle between them, when one side wins, the other immediately sets to plotting how to get back the advantage. The same scenario is played out repeatedly in other politicized school conflicts as well: school prayer, busing, the green curriculum, evolution, sex education, minors’ access to abortion and contraception, student drug testing and so on. The homosexual-praising curriculum is just another battle in the ongoing war over the hearts and minds of our children. It is the creation solely of government-controlled education, of America’s socialist public schools — not homosexual activists nor Christian parents’ rights organizations.
Marshall Fritz, President of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, describes the psychological effect on children of the school wars as the “equivalent of a bitter custody battle between divorcing parents.” The damage done to those who are forced to play the part of the target child — who desperately struggles not to choose sides between beloved parents — is unfathomable.
There is a way out of the AB 537 dilemma and a way out of all the political schools wars: parents must take back the responsibility of personally directing the education of their own children and no one else’s.
If Christians don’t want their children to be taught that homosexuality is good, they should send their children to like-minded private schools or choose the ultimate opt-out: homeschooling. If parents of homosexual children fear for their safety, they should likewise send them to private school or homeschool with them. If the homosexual community is truly serious about providing for the safety of homosexual students, let them found private schools where they will be safe.
This 160-year foray into social engineering via government schooling has borne nothing but bitter fruit. It has demonstrated beyond doubt that public education is a public menace. In the end, the only way to stop the raging custody battle is to remove once and for always politics from education. There can be no domestic peace without the separation of school and state.
Cathy Cuthbert is a wife, mother and homeschool advocate living in California. She is a former trustee for the California Homeschool Network, currently the Editor of The School Liberator, an e-mail newsletter for the Alliance for the Separation of School and State and is overseeing the development of a new web-page project.