Anti-Gay Right Responds to Calif. Gay History Bill
California’s state senate has approved a bill that would add gays and lesbians to already existing legislation that mandates schools teach about the historic contributions of women and African Americans. The bill is expected to clear the state assembly without major challenge.
If the bill is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown--as is expected to happen--California students will learn about the civil rights struggle of sexual minorities and how leaders like Harvey Milk and Bayard Rustin worked tirelessly to see that GLBT Americans would one day be equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of the law. The New York Times reported on the measure in an April 15 article.
To GLBT equality activists and leaders concerned for the emotional health of GLBT youth--who are at considerably higher risk of suicidal behavior that their heterosexual peers--the law could bring a measure of relief and redress in a society where, despite growing acceptance, gays and their families are still stigmatized and punished in many areas of life.
Openly gay State Sen. Mark Leno, who sponsored the bill, told the New York Times that fear of those who may be different in some ways arises from ignorance and predicted that students exposed to gay history would be less likely to subject GLBT peers to bullying and harassment.
Such lessons in the schoolroom might also translate over time to society as a whole where, GLBT equality activists say, their rights as individuals and families remain below par or, in some cases, subject to curtailment.
California’s own bitterly divisive struggle in 2008 over a ballot initiative, Proposition 8, which rescinded then-existing marriage rights for gay and lesbian families, is one high-profile example of how vulnerable the legal rights of sexual minorities remain.
On a smaller and more pervasive scale, daily life abounds with messages to gays young and old that they are not wanted by many religious denominations, not protected by their own federal government, and may even be targeted for violence on the street.
But well in advance of the California state senate’s passage of the bill, anti-gay right wing groups were renouncing and condemning the measure as a form of homosexual "indoctrination" of the young.
Using the time-honored vocabulary of "agendas" and "lifestyles," and insinuating that gays and lesbians "choose" their sexual orientations, anti-gay extremists opposed to the legislation echoed claims that have been reiterated for decades, to the effect that gays seek to "recruit" children and "turn" them gay.
"There is still a big cultural discussion of: Is it something that one chooses, or is it something that someone is born with," one opponent of the bill, Craig De Luz, told the New York Times.
"It is all part of the same agenda, which is largely about social acceptance," De Luz, who is a member of the Sacramento school board, added. "Now this is a way of endorsing a lifestyle that many people are morally opposed to."
"To have something this nebulous just opens it up to problems," said Bob Huff, another foe of the measure. "At what age do you start doing this instruction? What is age appropriate and what is appropriate at all is really a question we haven’t answered."
Anti-gay activists were quick to begin clamoring against the measure as soon as it passed a state senate committee last month, Right Wing Watch noted in a March 25 posting. Right Wing Watch reported that anti-gay organization Focus on the Family and its ancillary group CitizenLink had created and posted a document titled "Indoctrination 101: From the Battlefield to the Ball Field," in which the repeal of "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" and the inclusion of GLBT history in school curricula were tied together and presented as a looming threat.
"Our Legislature just doesn’t get it--with thousands of teachers getting pink slips, this is not the time to place more expensive, politically correct mandates on our schools," declared Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. "This bill also undermines parental rights and is insensitive to those whose cultures and belief systems are at odds with the LGBT agenda."
Though the exact content of such an addition to school curricula has yet to be determined, opponents of the measure derided it, with one anti-gay activist comparing the proposal to the introduction of a "quota system."
"It’s based less on the level of contribution and more on one’s sexual orientation," declared California Family Council head Ron Prentice.
Religious site OneNewsNow warned in a March 21 posting that the bill would force students to accept gays and lesbians. The article contained dire predictions from anti-gay author Scott Lively, an evangelical whose books have claimed that Nazism was primarily driven by gays and offered parents advice on how to ensure that their children do not turn out to be homosexual.
"This isn’t about tolerance," Lively declared. "This isn’t even about acceptance. This is about celebration and even goes further than that--the next step after that is forced acceptance; you’re coerced into being pro-gay."
Lively was one of three American evangelicals who addressed massive crowds in Uganda in March of 2009 about the "dangers" presented to society by gays. Among other claims, Lively and the other two American evangelicals, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge, told the crowds that gay men targeted male teens and sought to destroy the family.
Shortly after the three Americans delivered their anti-gay screeds, Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati introduced the notorious "kill the gays" bill, which would have imposed the death penalty for multiple convictions on gay sex charges, or for even a single same-sex encounter involving a HIV-positive man. The bill would also have imposed severe penalties on heterosexuals who failed to report gays to the authorities.
Lively has sought stricter anti-gay laws in the United States, noted a www.edgeonthenet.com/news////118543/ca_senate_bill_mandates_gay_history_in_schools|Associated Press noted in an April 15 article, California would be the first of America’s 50 states to require that GLBT contributions be a subject of study.
Foes fume that the curriculum would promote GLBT historical figures as role models. Anti-gay site WorldNetDaily declared in a Feb. 11 article that the law "would require schools to portray lesbians, homosexuals, transsexuals and those who have chosen other alternative sexual lifestyles as positive role models to children in all public schools," and went on to quote SaveCalifornia.com as calling the bill "The worst school sexual indoctrination ever."
"The Democrat state legislators pushing this radical bill want to recruit boys and girls to support the homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda, personally and publicly," a SaveCalifornia.com action alert warned, the WND article said. "They want them to become ’LGBTIQ’ activists [and] help trample religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, business-owner rights, private property rights, the Boy Scouts, and everything else you hold dear," continues the group, which is on a self-declared mission to encourage the public to do "what’s right in God’s sight."
"This is radical, in-your-face sexual indoctrination that parents genuinely don’t want and children certainly don’t need," the action alert went on to say.
"This new bill, SB 48, reflects the desire of the Democrat state legislators to recruit boys and girls to support the homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda both personally and publicly," SaveCalifornia.com head Randy Thomasson told the anti-gay site. "Pushing this slop bucket in the face of impressionable kids is disgusting to most people," Thomasson added.
But for GLBT youth, the introduction of such material in school could have an uplifting effect, demonstrating that gays do not necessarily live in isolation and are as apt to contribute to society as anyone else, suggested supporters.
"Suddenly students see [they are] part of a broader community, and they have a much better understanding of that community in the context of the rest of the world," the Gay-Straight Alliance Network’s Carolyn Laub told the New York Times. "It has absolutely nothing to do with sex; it’s about entire communities that are left out."