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TALKING POINTS IN SUPPORT OF THE CARING SCHOOLS COMMUNITY LGBT CURRICULUM
1. What is the safe school work of the District?
To ensure that all students, staff and families feel welcome and safe in school.This diversity includes but is not limited to people of color, the disabled, and ethnic and religious groups. Specific school and district data show that harassment and the use of anti-gay and lesbian slurs takes place in our schools daily.
2. Why are we doing this work?
This work is in accordance with legal mandates AB 537 Student Safety & Violence Prevention Act of 2000, Board Policy 5145.3 Nondiscrimination/Harassment, Board Policy 5145.9 Hate-Motivated Behavior, Ed Code Section200 and 201, and Penal Code Section 422.6(A). These laws and policies mandate that public schools prevent discrimination and harassment based on all legally protected categories including racial minorities, the disabled and LGBT people.
3. Why is the LGBT curriculum necessary?
To reflect the diversity of our communities and to fill the void in the current curriculum.
We all know how damaging slurs of any kind can be. Students of all ages must be taught that the words “gay” “lesbian” “bisexual” and “transgender” are adjectives that should be used with respect to describe (rather than shame or denigrate) individuals or families in our community.
4. Are elementary school children too young to be introduced to this topic?
Name-calling and using anti-gay slurs starts as early as kindergarten. Teachers are helping young students understand bias and prejudice and learn to use respectful language. Educators are creating inclusive school communities. In our California history/social science standards, students are learning about diverse family and community. We cannot learn about some family structures and not others. Reflecting LGBT families helps avoid feelings of alienation and helps build self-esteem.
5. Addressing vocabulary.
The words “gay” “lesbian” “bisexual” and “transgender” are not wrong words, but are descriptive terms that describe identity. “The list of definitions is not here to say that you should define all of these words for students. However, if the need arises, these definitions will give a place to start. There are three sets of vocabulary: one for K-3, one for grades 4-5, and one for educators, parents and high school students.”
6. How do we respect religious, ethnic and cultural diversity?
Addressing issues of violence, name-calling and other harassment, and ensuring all students are treated equally, does not violate any student’s religious beliefs or disrespect any student’s ethnic or cultural background. Students may hold any beliefs they choose as long as they do not harass or threaten other students.
7. How are we addressing these safe school issues with other at-risk groups?
The lesson matrix provides discussion of diverse families and identities that include cultural, ethnic and racial groups. What is missing is the inclusion of the LGBT group. The curriculum must embrace inclusive diversity and teach respect for all groups.
8. Can parents “opt out” in the discussion around orientation and identity?
State law requires parental notice concerning "instruction in health," sex education, and HIV/AIDS prevention education and provides that parents be given the opportunity to keep their child from receiving such instruction. State law only provides an opt out for (1) "instruction in health [that] conflicts with [parents'] religious training and beliefs [defined to include personal moral convictions]" and "comprehensive sexual health education, HIV/AIDS prevention education, and assessments related to that education."
A discussion about equity and respect for differences is not a conversation about health or human sexuality. For example, just as a discussion about heterosexual families is not a health or human biology lesson, similarly, a discussion about another family that has same-sex parents is not about health or sexual acts.
9. What if our anti-bias education programs cause controversy in the community?
There might be misunderstandings about the purpose and content of such programs. Involving and informing parents and community organizations, such as the PTA, help stem any controversy before it arises. It is important to communicate to parents that these programs provide accurate, age-appropriate, objective, and up-to-date information that is relevant to subject matter in schools and in accordance with state standards and local school district policies.
*This document is intended as an LGBT and Ally resource to the community and has been adapted form the original document produced by AUSD. The school district had no role in the preparation of this document. To view a copy of the original document please visit the AUSD web site at www.alameda.k12.ca.us