Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Yes on 8 Flier Has Arrived

Did anyone else in California get that glossy flier paid for by Protect that is covered in falling dominoes? Presumably the message that they are trying to convey is that if Prop 8 is defeated, allowing gays to marry is just one more tumbling domino in a long line that will drive California into a downward spiral of debauchery and corruption. Interestingly, this flier provides footnotes for each of their claims, so having nothing else to do (hello, no job here!!) I figured I'd use my trusty friend the internet to do a little investigating.

Claim number 1: California law requires 96% of schools to teach children as young as kindergarten about marriage. This was footnoted with a reference to California's Education Code Section 51933. Here is what it actually says about marriage:

"School districts may (emphasis mine) provide comprehensive sexual health education, consisting of age-appropriate instruction, in any kindergarten to grade 12..."

"A school district that
elects (again, emphasis mine) to offer comprehensive sexual health education pursuant to subdivision (a), whether taught by school district personnel or outside consultants, shall satisfy all of the following criteria:"

I won't list all of the criteria, save those that actually pertain to the above claim. It is true that the Education Code provides for teaching about marriage:

"Instruction and materials shall teach respect for marriage and committed relationships."

Nowhere in the code does it state that schools are "required" to teach about marriage. The flier also claims that courts ruled that parents had no right to withdraw their children from classes that taught gay marriage. There is no footnote referencing that court ruling. From personal experience, I know that when my kids were in both elementary school and middle school, I was warned well in advance that "sexual health" classes were being taught, and that I was given the option to not have my child participate. This was an option I did NOT exercise.

Claim number 2: Gay marriage is already being taught in California. It is true that a public school took a first grade class to see their teacher's lesbian wedding at San Francisco City Hall. An article about this appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 11, 2008. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom officiated over the ceremony, and got reamed out on the air for it yesterday by local talk show host Ronn Owens. I say, good for you Ronn. This was a stupid move on the part of the school and San Francisco's mayor that only served to substantiate the claims of Prop 8 proponents. Stupidity not withstanding, the fact remains that these children did not, and could not have been taken on this field trip without the written consent of their parents. The right to withhold that consent will not be taken away if Prop 8 is defeated.

Claim number 3. In Massachusetts, court papers were filed by proponents of No on 8 to mandate the instruction of gay marriage in schools. Here is the real story of what went down in Massachusetts. A couple of teachers (one kindergarten and one second grade) read to or provided their students books to read that taught tolerance of gay lifestyles. The parents argued that these actions violated their and their children's right to "free exercise of religion or due process". They asked that they be given prior notice that such materials would be presented so that they could choose to remove their children from this teaching. The courts ruled that sufficient notice HAD been given to the parents, that the burden of proof that their free exercise of religion had not been violated, and that there was no evidence of indoctrination of children because they were not forced to read the materials or punished if they were not read. This court ruling had nothing to do with a mandate on the teaching of gay marriage in schools.

In a perfect world, parents would always be able to teach their children about sexuality in their own time and in their own way. The fact is that whether Prop 8 passes or not, same sex couples are already raising kids together. My children currently go to school with the kids of gay marriages. Judging by the number of Yes on 8 signs in my neighborhood, there is some indoctrination on the subject of gay unions happening at home already. I would rather have my children taught tolerance of gay unions (whether Prop 8 passes or not) by their teachers, than have the children of religious fundamentalists teach them their own views on the playground. Vote no on Prop 8.


Anonymous said...

Excellent reasoning. You really did your homework. If a political campaign ever needs someone to dig up facts instead of fiction you'd be their girl. Did you see "Who the F--k is that guy" Ed on MSNBC ? Nearly laughed myself silly when I saw his boot face appear.

Steve said...

Another great blog post. Thanks for all the research and presenting the information in such clear terms!

Also: CONGRATULATIONS on making your post/day goal for October. Now you can take a day or two off before resuming next week. Do you think there might be anything to blog about next week? :-)

Joanna said...

Guess I really needed to leave this comment here - Just read your twitter about another Yes on 8 flier - I was thinking how enjoyable it would be if we could make signs that said something like "Your fliers aren't going to make me change my mind about voting NO on 8 - please save a tree and stop leaving these on my doorstep"

Gay lover and tree hugger - I'm such a socialist!!