Earlier this year, Alameda Unified School District, just across the bay from San Francisco and, undoubtedly, home to many school children with gay and lesbian parents, approved a curriculum that teaches tolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered members of the community. Two board members, however, voted against the program, one because the curriculum is not comprehensive enough — she felt it should have included race and religion — and the other because there was no opt-out provision. The latter issue prompted the Pacific Justice Institute to file a lawsuit on behalf of parents who, I guess, want their children to think it’s okay to bully kids based on sexual identity and gender preference.
On Tuesday, however, Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled against PJI and the parents, “repeatedly insinuating that they are bigots and insisting there can be no homosexual indoctrination because people are born that way” — at least according to the PJI press release. PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider isn’t giving up, though; he is planning on “continuing this battle until opt-out rights are restored on appeal, or the curriculum is changed.”
Alameda Superintendent Kirsten Vital has a different view of the curriculum and the ruling. “The District believes,” she says in a district press release [PDF], “that preventing and addressing bullying and harassment is key to creating safe and welcoming schools that are conducive to learning. This ruling affirms our ability to help ensure our schools are safe learning environments where everyone is accepted and welcomed.” Plain and simple, kids can’t learn if they’re scared of being teased, scorned, or beaten up.
Now, I don’t know if the judge really called the parents bigots — I wasn’t there and I was unable to find a transcript of the proceedings — but if he indeed did, he was far more charitable than I would have been. And as for opting out, like Dorothy and her ruby slippers, these parents have always had the means to opt out — they can pull their kids out of the public school system. Personally, I’d just as soon they exercised that option so the rest of us could get on with getting our kids an education.