Parents debate teaching LGBT lesson

May 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Elementary school children in the East Bay were at the center of a fiery debate Tuesday night. The parents and school board met long into the night questioning how young, is too young to teach kids about same-sex families? In Alameda a lot of parents weighed in.

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The Alameda School District's legal counsel advised the board not to let students opt out of what is being called LGBT Lesson #9, but they were met by parents armed with legal arguments and accusations that this curriculum excludes traditional marriage.

"Other children will pick up this idea that [my child] is a fanatic and that she is a gay basher," said Alameda parent Thomas Chow.

Some parents whose children are taught to uphold traditional marriages are afraid the new curriculum excludes their views.

"This curriculum, instead of teaching children how to agree to disagree and give respect, endorses one particular viewpoint -- that the LGBT lifestyle is normal and acceptable," said Chow.

Chow and other opponents say, lessons that include two male penguins who adopt a baby penguin, promotes same-sex marriage over traditional marriage, but school officials say it's just one part of a nine lesson plan that promotes tolerance instead of bullying.

"How is it that people say they can believe in God and yet inflict such wounds?" said a pastor.

"Isn't it better that children learn the word 'gay' describes a man who loves another man, than they learn it only as a hostile insult?" said Diana Curlander, a parent.

But opponents say their child should at least have the chance to opt out of the lesson.

"Education Section Code 51240 states, 'if any part of instruction in heath conflicts with the personal, moral convictions of a parent of a pupil, the pupil shall be excused from that part of the instruction,'" said Roy Lo, a parent.

At the meeting, the district's legal counsel recommended the board not allow students to opt out of the curriculum. The topic is so sensitive, Board President Mike McMahon refused to say where he stood on the issue.

"At this point I'm just waiting for all the presentations to be made, so I have no opinion," said McMahon.

Other school districts like San Francisco, San Leandro and Berkeley already have similar lesson plans. On May 18, there will be a special meeting to get more feedback from the community and on May 26, the board will take a vote on this controversial issue.

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