Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prop. 8 thoughts from an education expert

The following thoughts are by Don Sedgwick, a longtime school board member and expert on California education - thanks, Don, for letting us share your thoughts!

For me, Proposition 8 is not about denying rights to same-sex couples--I am for them! The government re-defining marriage goes much further for me, as a parent, as a person of faith, and as a school board member. My concerns are two:

1) The CA Ed. Code Section 51933 includes instruction to primary grades students (Kindergarten-3rd grade) regarding marriage. Unless Prop. 8 passes, teachers will be forced to teach that same sex marriage is the same as heterosexual marriage, as has been done in Massachusetts, where parents who simply wanted to pull their child out of school during the period of instruction that taught gay marriage, was denied the ability to do so by the courts (details of the court case attached). The "No on 8" campaign recently played ads saying that it was a lie to suggest kids would be taught differently. During the same week as those ads, the S.F. Chronicle reported that a first grade class in S.F. took a field trip to observe a same-sex wedding.

2) Separation of Church and State: Attached are details of a court case where the courts stripped a Methodist camp of its tax-exempt status for not allowing a same-sex couple to use their property for a wedding. Similar comments included are about the Catholic Charities being forced to offer adoptive babies to same sex couples even when neither the birth mother nor the church wanted to do it. Catholic Charities, who runs the adoptive services, has pulled out of Massachussetts. Similar to a California physician recently being forced by the courts to implant an embryo in a same sex couple when he preferred to refer the couple to another physician.

In summary, I have nothing against honoring all the rights for same sex couples.

I am concerned on two fronts.

One, what will be taught to children. Even in most of the Scandinavian countries that have honored same-sex unions for years, they draw the line by not allowing it to be taught to kids until the children turn 18 years old.

Two, the government blurring the boundaries of separation of church and state. When the government begins telling people by force and threat what they need to believe (and using the hammer of tax status or lawsuits to accomplish it), we are becoming less free, and less American. Public schools and other government agencies are supposed to provide refuge from being forced to believe a certain way (free from either liberal or conservative agendas). And, churches and synagogues must be left to practice their faith without undue government influence.

The S.F. courts who voted 4-3 to overrule the vote of 61 percent of the people in California in the year 2000 (prop.22) overstepped their bounds. Dozens of other state supreme courts have rightly voted that same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships can each share rights, but should not be defined as the same. Vote yes on Prop. 8.

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Blake said...

1. California educational code mandates that the schools teach respect for both marriage and "committed relationships." So even if Prop. 8 passes, a teacher can teach about domestic partnerships between persons of the same sex.
2. If Prop. 8 passes it is more likely than not that the marriages that have been performed up until it passes will not be nullified or changed to domestic partnerships. They will remain marriages. It is judicially unprecedented for a court to remove rights retroactively.
3. What you fail to see is that by allowing some religions to define marriage as between a man and a woman, while discriminating against those that allow marriages between both man and woman, man and man, woman and woman is the government not blurring any boundries, its clearly drawing a line.

Blake said...

One more thought, I think everyone who is pro prop 8 forget to notice that in the same news story, two families opted out of the field trip.

Christa Jeanne said...

That's true - but the two children left behind also felt left out.

Gay or straight, children should not be taken out of school for a wedding of any kind, in my opinion.

School should be devoted to reading, writing, math, arts, sciences - not values. Those should be learned in the home. I do not see why a five-year-old child needs to be learning about sexual orientation.

Blake said...

I agree with you that values should be taught at home. But if that is what you are seeking change that law. Not take away a persons right to marry the person they love.

Christa Jeanne said...

Blake, I recommend you read the post I wrote called "Sometimes love just ain't enough" - it gives a good explanation of why a couple loving each other isn't reason enough to alter the definition of marriage.

Pomoprophet said...

there are a few other things according to that Ed code which “kindergarteners must be taught”.

-Mental and emotional health and development.
-Drug use and misuse, including the misuse of tobacco and alcohol.
-Diseases and disorders, including sickle cell anemia and related genetic diseases and disorders.
-Environmental health and safety.

Who knew that the curriculum in the California kindergarten classroom included the use of Paxil or how to shoot up heroin? Who knew that genetic disease and toxic waste shared the floor with “A is for apple” and “the sky is blue”?

Well it doesn’t and they don’t. These (and marriage) are not mandates for the education of “children as young as kindergarteners”. They are part of “all educational programs offered in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive” and reflect a goal of providing health information over a child’s entire school experience.

But I applaud religious people who claim to believe in and share the truth, using scare tactics to try to win an election.

Very Jesus like...

Christa Jeanne said...

pomoprophet, thanks for sharing your views and your perspective - I really enjoy hearing diverse opinions on the subject. It helps me to see better where people are coming from, and I respect everyone's right to their opinions and to act on them as they see fit.

Again, though, I mention the Parker case. It's not a scare tactic - kindergarteners are being taught about gay marriage, and the courts ruled that parents have no right to hear about this in advance. I believe that schools should teach love, compassion, understanding and respect - but I would prefer to tackle tougher issues at home, when I feel my child is ready and in a manner where the "bandaid fits the owie," so to speak.