Here is the editorial I just published in the Alameda Sun about the proposed curriculum. You be the judge.
The Alameda Sun supports the Alameda Unified School District’s new curriculum that helps to explain the reality of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people living among their straight brothers and sisters here on the Island. The Alameda Sun does not support the “opt-out” as a means of sheltering the children from truth — a reality they very likely already know about.
We are not speaking of religious or political opinion here. While it is true that there are religious points of view involved — meaning, some people’s viewpoints are threatened — the school district is not empowered to teach religion, and therefore must stick to the facts.
- Fact: One in 10 people is gay. If that’s not you, it’s your friends, neighbors or family.
- Fact: 77.9 percent of LGBT students hear remarks such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently or often at school (similar studies have shown that the average high school student hears such epithets 25 times a day) from students, faculty or staff.
- Fact: 82.9 percent of LGBT students nationwide report that faculty or staff never or only sometimes intervened when they were present as such remarks were made.
- Fact: 64.3 percent of LGBT students feel unsafe in their school because of their sexual orientation.
- Fact: LGBT youth of color and female students face abuse often compounded by racism and sexism. Some 44.7 percent of LGBT students of color reported being verbally harassed because of both their sexual orientation and their race or ethnicity.
- Fact: Half of lesbian and bisexual young women reported being verbally and sexually harassed.
- LGBT students are three times as likely to drop out of high school as straight students because of ongoing harassment; these students miss about a third of classes because of ongoing bullying and intimidation, and these students are four times as likely as other students to attempt suicide.
How is any of this treatment to a tenth of the population acceptable? If you substitute “blue eyes” or “brown hair” or “short” instead of “LGBT,” you’ll see the problem. Whether you “believe” in homosexuality or not (and by now you should, since it’s been proven as a part of the natural world far more than Bigfoot, crop circles or space aliens), statistics like the above tell one story.
The statistics tell that a defined group of individuals is being singled out, harassed, threatened, hurt, shamed and worse. The statistics above are facts. If one group is singled out, it is more than “just bullying” or “kids being kids.” It is bigotry, and a hate crime as well.
The AUSD Board of Education should vote to introduce the LGBT curriculum, and avoid further damage to vulnerable kids and teens. If that doesn’t sway you, read up on the lawsuit that the Vallejo school district just settled this week as an example of what can happen when a school doesn’t take steps to adequately prevent harassment.
If you need anything more than that, try these familiar sayings: Love thy neighbor. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love one another as I have loved you.