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AUSD Board to Vote Tonight on Anti-Bullying Literature Recommendations

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Education is set to vote tonight on a list of books to support a revised anti-bullying program. A local parents group says that approval of four specific books would violate the District’s policy on controversial issues.

Alameda Unified School District Board Policy 6144 reads:

The Board of Education believes that students should have opportunities to discuss controversial issues which have political, social or economic significance and which the students are mature enough to investigate and address. The study of a controversial issue should help students learn how to gather and organize pertinent facts, discriminate between fact and fiction, draw intelligent conclusions and respect the opinions of others.

The Board expects teachers to exercise caution and discretion when deciding whether or not a particular issue is suitable for study or discussion in any particular class. Teachers should not spend class time on any topic which they feel is not suitable for the class or related to the established course of study.

The Board also expects teachers to ensure that all sides of a controversial issue are impartially presented, with adequate and appropriate factual information. Without promoting any partisan point of view, the teacher should help students separate fact from opinion and warn them against drawing conclusions from insufficient data. The teacher shall not suppress any student’s view on the issue as long as its expression is not malicious or abusive toward others.

Teachers sponsoring guest speakers shall either ask them not to use their position or influence on students to forward their own religious, political, economic or social views or shall take active steps to neutralize whatever bias has been presented.

Kerry Cook, of Alameda Concerned Parents, a parents group that was formed in 2009 to, as Ms. Cook put it in a press release distributed to Action Alameda News, “increase awareness of the district’s plans to introduce inappropriate ‘LGBT’ curriculum for elementary school children,” asserts that approval of four books would violate the Board’s policy. Ms. Cook sat last year on the District’s anti-bullying curriculum parents’ committee.

The four books are:

  • Heather Has Two Mommies
  • And Tango Makes Three
  • In Our Mother’s House
  • The Harvey Milk Story

Ms. Cook said that “Eight of the books [proposed] promote changing gender or claiming homosexual identity, and none of the books protect children who respectfully disagree.”

She also says that a fifth book, All I Want to Be Is Me, reinforces Gender Identity Disorder in children, against the advice of a recent letter from The American College of Pediatricians.

The American College of Pediatricians announced on April 5th, 2010, that College president Thomas Benton, MD, had sent a letter to all 14,800 school district superintendents in the U.S. to caution them about the management of students experiencing same-sex attraction or exhibiting symptoms of gender confusion. In the letter, hosted on a website separate from the American College of Pediatricians, Dr. Benton writes that, “Even children with Gender Identity Disorder (when a child desires to be the opposite sex) will typically lose this desire by puberty, if the behavior is not reinforced.”

According to the College’s website, the American College of Pediatricians was founded in 2002 in response to a statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics that was supportive of, again, according to the College’s website, “the rearing of children by homosexual adults.”

Ms. Cook wants the Board of Trustees to consider the letter and the Board policy before voting on the literature.

The District has been soliciting input from the public on the new literature list since early March. The District staff presentation to the board is available here.

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