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AUSD School Board Approves LGBT Curriculum

At last night’s school board meeting, the Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees, by a 3 to 2 vote, approved as proposed by staff the “Lesson 9” LGBT Safe Schools curriculum component.

The decision came less than ten hours after the California Supreme Court upheld the legality of Proposition 8, a November 2008 state ballot initiative that amended the California Constitution to define “marriage” as a union between a man and a woman.

One could be forgiven for anticipating that tensions at last night’s meeting would be high, given the proximity of the meeting to the Supreme Court decision, the high turnout at the previous two AUSD public hearings to discuss the LGBT curriculum and the intense debate over it in Alameda over the past few weeks. And to compound matters, as last night’s meeting at City Hall was getting started, in a seemingly un-related event, the Chipman Cougar Band pounded out throbbing beats just two blocks away at the corner of Park St. and Santa Clara.

Chipman Cougar Band

Chipman Cougar Band

The drumming was audible from the steps of City Hall where protesters held signs and TV news crew vans were parked. As the discussion of the LGBT curriculum began, Alameda PD had two officers in the foyer outside of Council Chambers, and the Alameda Fire Department had an officer onsite as well, who ultimately declared that Council Chambers had too many people. Alameda PD asked many people standing in Council Chambers to remove themselves to the overflow room next door to the Chambers.

Protesters at City Hall

Protesters at City Hall

In the end, board member Ron Mooney made a motion to pass the curriculum as proposed by staff, with members Tracy Jensen and Neil Tam voting in favor. Board President Mike McMahon and board member Trish Spencer voted against the curriculum as proposed, inasmuch as it does not include specific, comparable, curriculum modules intended to reduce the bullying and harassment of students based on race, religion or other situations that would place students in other protected classes. Board President McMahon wanted an “opt-out” option in the curriculum for the first year of implementation, until the effectiveness of the program could be evaluated, and AUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital said that a “supplementary guide” would be provided with the curriculum materials to assist teachers in dealing with the harassment of students in other protected classes.

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