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K-12 academy hosts 'Queer State of the Union'

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 03/04/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

With same-sex marriage in the headlines, an elite Southern California prep academy distinguished for its “Crossdressing Day” and “M?nage ? Prom” will host a forum tonight titled A Queer State of the Union, featuring a state lawmaker and prominent homosexual activists.


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Scene from Santa Monica school’s play on “Gay Odyssey.”

Crossroads School for the Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica, where many Hollywood celebrities send their children, was dubbed “Hollyweird High” by authors Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner in their book “Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon — The Case Against Celebrity.”

According to faculty member Adam Behrman, who is the forum’s moderator, the school has a “sexual orientation curriculum” that includes instruction to kindergarten through fifth-grade students about how “there are different kinds of families, which include families with two mommies and two daddies.”

In interviews with Queer Youth TV, Behrman said he is seeing more youth explore their “sexual orientation.”

“One thing I’m starting to notice in the last year or two … which is really, really cool, not just at Crossroads, but other places, that it’s becoming more and more OK for people who are probably largely toward the straight end of the spectrum to really think about, ‘You know, maybe I’m bisexual,’” he said in an interview segment on the Queer Youth website.

Behrman said the response is “not from a, ‘Oh, it’s trendy to be bi,’ but really thinking, like, well, ‘OK, maybe I don’t have to limit myself … what am I shutting myself off to?’”

Noting he also works at a camp in Vermont, Behrman said some of the 13 and 14 year olds there also are exploring bisexuality.

“And some of them may turn out to not be bi at all but really be authentically straight,” he said, “but they are still willing to consider, like actively consider, and share it with an adult, ‘Yeah, I don’t know, maybe I’m bisexual. What does that mean and who am I?’”

Behrman said every student in middle school and high school at Crossroads has one hour or two hours each week of “life skills,” where the issue of sexual orientation is among the subjects discussed with about 15 other students, led by a teacher or trained facilitator.

Don’t tell parents

Behrman is faculty adviser for a campus “gay-straight” group called FLAG, Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which staged a theater production called “Everything Possible: A Gay Odyssey.”

Focusing on the “coming out journey” of a 15-year-old student, it was written and performed by many straight students who acted as homosexuals. The play included a scene of two boys kissing. The emotional response of seventh graders to the production apparently was the catalyst for the start of middle-school gay-straight alliance.

Queer Youth TV asked students in the play what their parents thought about their participation.

One student said participants “had to sign a thing that said we would permit you in rehearsal, but I wouldn’t tell my parents what the show was called.”

“They may have known it was called ‘Everything Possible,’ but the whole “Gay Odyssey” part, they only found out when they actually came to the show,” the student said to laughter in the background.

They wouldn’t have stopped me,” she said, “It’s just I didn’t want their permission; I didn’t want any sort of a conversation started. I just wanted them to see it, and think what they think from it and take what they get from the message of it, but I didn’t want them to discuss anything with me.”

The forum tonight includes nationally-known homosexual-rights speakers and activists such as California state Assembly member Jackie Goldberg of Los Angeles, who as part of the legislature’s “Gay Caucus” helped pass a number of bills promoting homosexual rights last year.

Others featured are Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the predominantly homosexual Metropolitan Community Churches Worldwide; Stephen Macias, entertainment media director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; Geoffrey Kors, executive director for Equality California, a prominent group in the push for same-sex marriage; and R. Bradley Sears, professor of law at UCLA.

Also promised are “queer youth members and other surprise guests.”

A promotion for the event, which is free and open to the public, says, “Queer issues have dominated the headlines recently and are also prominent in the current presidential campaign. Join us as we explore the latest developments.”

Special Guests will include Phranc, described as the “all-American Jewish lesbian folksinger and Tupperware lady” who will “open up the evening with music to delight & amaze us.” Bob Smith, “the first openly gay comedian to appear on The Tonight Show as well as to star in his own HBO special … will offer us a humorous look at the queer state of current affairs.”

On its website, Crossroads says it was founded in 1971 as a “distinctively progressive school offering an intellectually demanding and creative curriculum within a supportive, personal environment that has at its base the notion of safety, equity, and inclusion for all.”


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