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Christians Target LGBT Student Protections
Christians Target LGBT Student Protections
by Rex Wockner

Anti-gay activists will attempt to use the California ballot-initiative process to undo a new law that synchronized the state Education Code with existing laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBT people.

Signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Oct. 12, the Student Civil Rights Act mandates, among other things, that "No teacher shall give instruction nor shall a school district sponsor any activity that promotes a discriminatory bias because of" sexual orientation.

The act amended several Education Code sections to ensure they conform with other laws, said Alice Kessler, legislative director of the statewide LGBT lobby group Equality California (EQCA).

It references "all those statutes to the mother nondiscrimination statute," Kessler said. "It cleans up areas such as charter schools, postsecondary education, the responsibilities of school governing boards and some statutes related to curriculum."

But Sacramento-based Capitol Resource Family Impact calls the new law "outrageous," alleging it will "result in reverse discrimination against religious students and students with traditional family values" and "force ... alternative lifestyles ... on California's schoolchildren."

CRFI has about 130 days to gather 433,071 valid voter signatures to put a referendum on the ballot.

The organization believes the law could be used to require "gender-neutral bathrooms and locker rooms" and "opens the door for gay activists to challenge such institutions as a homecoming 'king' and 'queen,' or biology lessons which refer to 'male' and 'female.'"

EQCA calls CRFI's claims "deceptive propaganda."

"It is ironic that an organization that alleges to promote 'family values' has chosen to fight a law that will protect all California youth based on religion, race, nationality and gender, not just sexual orientation," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors.

"In a desperate attempt to deny full equality to people -- and in this case, youth -- who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, right-wing extremists continue to wage a misguided attack on the Student Civil Rights Act. They are using fear-based tactics and deceptive propaganda to repeal legislation that has already received the approval of the Legislature and Gov. Schwarzenegger."

Other groups opposing the law include the California Family Council (CFC), the Campaign for Children and Families (CCF) and the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC).

CFC says the law "silence[s] students and teachers from the free expression of beliefs and opinions that run contrary to total and complete acceptance of all forms of sexual behavior."

CCF President Randy Thomasson said: "Arnold Schwarzenegger has delivered young children into the hands of those who will introduce them to alternative sexual lifestyles. This means children as young as five years old will be mentally molested in school classrooms."

The law is "about sexual indoctrination" and "means good-bye to textbooks that say you're either a boy or a girl, that marriage is only for a man and a woman, and that the natural family is a father, a mother, and their children," CCF has said.

"[It] means radical curriculum changes that include transvestite speakers and transsexual videos, classroom handouts on sex-change operations, and curriculum teaching children homosexual 'marriage' is completely normal," the group said.

TVC has charged that the law "cleverly accomplishes two major goals of radical homosexual activists: It gives pro-homosexual teachers free reign [sic] to teach whatever they want about the alleged positive aspects of homosexuality -- and it silences all opposition to it."

In an interview, EQCA's Kors said all the protections included in the new law actually took effect in 2000, and the new law merely specifically elaborates these protections in parts of the Education Code that, until now, only had made general reference to other laws where the protections were detailed.

"This bill takes existing law and puts it in every part of the Education Code," Kors said. "It simply makes it really clear for administrators and puts the categories directly into the code rather than referring you [elsewhere]. Nothing is being changed legally."

Kors said anti-gay activists "are always looking for the issue they can use to rile up their base and, with the same-sex marriage bill vetoed, this is what they're going after."

"They are absolutely making up things that this law ... does not do," he said. "We have had seven years to see what these protections did or did not do.

"The Legislature did not pass, and the Republican governor did not sign, a bill that prohibits saying there are mothers and fathers," Kors said. "And even if the right wing repeals this law, all these exact protections still exist, because they're in a law from 2000."
picture top: Alice Kessler; picture bottom: Geoffrey Kors
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photos by Joey - SGN photographer

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