The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network (GLSTN) issued a statement denouncing California House Bill AB 1490, introduced by Rep. George House in Sacramento. AB 1490 would prevent public schools from using state funds for "materials and instruction that promotes or advocates homosexuality as a viable alternative lifestyle." Inspired by the purchase of GLSTN's video Teaching Respect for All by the Modesto (CA) City Schools, House's bill would represent an unprecedented interference in the affairs of local schools by state authorities, according to GLSTN Executive Director Kevin Jennings.
"What this bill is saying is that Big Brother is not only watching you but will tell you what you can do in your schools," said Jennings. "State authorities would be in the position of telling local schools that, no matter how serious the problems of lesbian and gay youth suicide, anti-gay harassment, or similar issue are in their communities, they have no authority to spend moneys to address them." Jennings noted that Rep. House's bill is especially ironic given that both he and his chief of staff, Jennifer Jacobs, are on record this week as having not seen the video which has inspired the controversy. "If my students had come to class and spoken about the subject without doing their homework, I'd give them an F," said Jennings, a former high school history teacher who conducted the training featured in Teaching Respect for All. "I think that Representative House definitely deserves the dunce cap for this legislation."
In response to AB 1490, GLSTN is offering free copies of Teaching Respect for All to all interested California legislators. "These folks need to see through the rhetoric of Rep. House and his supporters like Lou Sheldon [head of the Traditional Values Coalition, a noted far-right group that sponsored a rally in favor of AB 1490 in Sacramento this morning]," said Jennings, "to see that we are indeed teaching respect, not 'promoting homosexuality'." Jennings concluded, "For bureaucrats who have not even seen the materials in question to tell our schools what they can and cannot talk about is mind control, pure and simple -- which is the opposite of what we need in education."
With over fifty chapters, and a membership of over five thousand teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, GLSTN is the largest national organization working to insure that schools are places where all people are respected and valued, regardless of sexual orientation. For more information, visit the GLSTN web site at http://www.glstn.org/ or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.