LGBT lesson debate continues in Alameda

May 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The same-sex marriage issue could land an East Bay school district in court. Over the objections of many parents, the Alameda Unified School Board approved the teaching of a series of lessons that includes a chapter on gay marriage.

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Parents opposed to the lessons are not being allowed to opt out of the lesson plan and are so upset they are threatening to sue the school board and mount a recall. They say issues regarding gays, lesbians and sexual orientation should be a parents' rights issue. They do not think the issues are appropriate for school children.

Even so, the Alameda Unified School District board members decided Tuesday night to move forward with the lesson. They voted 3-2 to adopt LGBT Lesson #9 in an addition to an existing anti-bullying and safe schools program. It will now be taught in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Lesson #9 aims to teach students respect for different families including those with same-sex parents. It also discusses hurtful name-calling and stereotypes related to gays and lesbians.

"I believe that the safe school curriculum is necessary to stop other students from having to go through the torture I went through for my sexual orientation," said high school student Brian Harris.

Although, two of the five board members believed students should have the chance to opt out, the district's legal counsel recommended against it because the curriculum does not deal with health or sex education, which are topics that do require opt-out provisions.

Some of the lessons teach about different sexual orientations and upset opponents say this is not the only issue. They say race and religion is not discussed although those things can also lead to bullying.

The school district says it will reassess the curriculum after it is in place for one year.

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