School officials in Vallejo, Calif. told parents at a recent board hearing that their children will be required to take a homosexual rights course.
Students in Kindergarten through 5th grade will be shown three movies portraying toleration behavior towards homosexual students in a class, said Vallejo Unified School District officials, and parents cannot opt-out.
“We do not feel that this is an area that students can opt-out and we feel that this is an area that we do not have to give prior notification,” Floyd Gonella, district superintendent, told reporters after the hearing.
The decision has outraged many Vallejo parents.
“No one should (have the) right to tell me what can be shown to my child,” one parent said at the hearing. She reportedly has two children attending school in the district.
Another parent said the film viewings were an extension of sex education.
“Now what you do in your home, that’s your home but as far as me and mine, my children are not ready for this,” she said.
Despite parents’ resistance, officials say the viewings are non-negotiable and court-ordered.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the district in 2008 on behalf of an openly gay Vallejo student who said she was harassed by her teachers for being a lesbian. She was forced to participate in a school-sponsored counseling group, where she was berated for her sexual orientation, according to ACLU reports.
The student won the suit and in May 2009 the district was ordered to incorporate anti-gay harassment and discrimination training into the school system’s curriculum resulting in the films. The five-year agreement also required mandatory tolerance training for the area’s teachers.
A gay rights group is circulating a petition to ensure Vallejo officials don’t buckle under pressure from parents.
“Fighting school bullying should be everyone’s business, whether that bullying is based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or more,” wrote an editor for the group’s Web site. “And that’s exactly what the Vallejo Unified School District in California was trying to do, by expanding their anti-bullying curriculum.”