in the classroom

Oakland’s Schools Drop Anti-Gay Bullying Lesson (For An Anti-Everything Lesson)


With a judge insisting only “bigots” would pull their kids out of a school lesson about being tolerant toward LGBTs, the Alameda Unified School District outside Oakland has dropped its gay-specific anti-bullying lesson plan — and in its place will be a program that teaches kids about six forms of bias, which includes the gays.

The 45-minute lesson plans adopted in May were supposed to foster an environment of tolerance and acceptance for LGBTs — something some bigoted parents just couldn’t accept, and took the school district to court to score the right to opt their kids out. You know, because subjecting kids to the word “homosexual” would indoctrinate them into the radical lifestyle!

Now, a compromise of sorts.

While students will still learn about anti-LGBT bias and bullying, the original Safe School Community Lesson 9, which begins in kindergarten and is taught but once a year, will now include lessons and books about other forms of bullying, and “will be supplemented by children’s books that explicitly address six specific forms of bias, including against gays.”

Not that everyone is happy:

Several parents said they did not trust a teachers’ committee to pick books that would both satisfy gay and lesbian parents and parents with religious views that do not condone homosexuality.

“Freedom of religion is protected from harassment and discrimination from anyone. It may be of no consequence to some, but it is a very integral part of many traditional families and should be honored,” said Kellie Wood, who has three children in Alameda schools and is part of a group circulating recall election petitions. “If we’re all honest, the friction between two protected classes, in particular, will not go away.”

Kathy Passmore, a lesbian mother of two, said she hears students using anti-gay language in her job as a sixth grade teacher in Alameda. She urged the school board to retain the spirit of Lesson 9.

“The children of gay families exist and are attending ASUD schools every single day,” she said. “They are here.”

But so long as students are being taught that anti-gay bullying, in addition to any form of bullying, is wrong and unjustified — and what can be done if you’re the victim or witness of it — then we’re pleased. Do the lessons need to be gay-specific? No. But they must include LGBTs. This has nothing to do with teaching young kids about sex, and everything to do with teaching them about tolerance and that differences are not “weird” or “ugly,” just different.