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Religion Last Updated: Sep 12th, 2006 - 01:17:06

Schwarzenegger caves to bigots and bullies in vetoing Bias Free Curriculum Act
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 12, 2006, 01:06

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In its last session, the California legislature passed several equality bills. One of them was SB 1437. The Bias Free Curriculum Act would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in textbooks, classroom materials and school-sponsored activities. It would have allowed curricula to include such historically and culturally significant events such as the 1978 assassination of San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk and the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in New York City.

But on September 6, 2006, The Terminator become Governorator terminated California SB 1437 with a gubernatorial veto.

The Christian Right was gleeful and, as always, disingenuous: ��California families recognize this bill was an attack on religious freedoms in school,� said Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute, after the announcement today� [link added].

�Religious freedom?� Ms. England is supposedly defending �morality� via �the biblical view of homosexuality.� Would she also cite �religious freedom� to defend derogatory comments about, representations of, and actions against, women based on what St. Paul wrote in First Timothy: �suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence� because �Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression�? Or is she selectively applying her biblical �morality�? As Oscar Wilde noted, �Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.�

The comments made by Luis Goldamez, �Latino spokesman� for Randy Thomasson�s Sacramento-based Campaign for Children and Families, speak for themselves and the mocking bigotry SB 1437 tried to address: �We can no longer allow girlie-men in this state or any state to dictate to our children what they�re going to teach them. We need to see them face-to-face and tell them, we have our pants on the right way, we are men and women, we are not confused. And if anyone needs to teach our children, it needs to be us parents, not girlie-men from this building or any other building.�

As a supposedly �mature adult,� Mr. Goldamez well illustrated the mocking bigotry and bullying that gay and lesbian students face everyday in America�s public schools. Key findings in the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network�s 2005 National School Climate Survey included:

75. 4% of students heard derogatory remarks such as �faggot� or �dyke� frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten (89.2%) reported hearing �that�s so gay� or �you�re so gay� -- meaning stupid or worthless -- frequently or often.

Over a third (37.8%) of students experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter (26.1%) on the basis of their gender expression. Nearly one-fifth (17.6%) of students had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth (11.8%) because of their gender expression . . .

LGBT students were five times more likely to report having skipped school in the last month because of safety concerns than the general population of students.

LGBT students who experience more frequent physical harassment were more likely to report they did not plan to go to college. Overall, LGBT students were twice as likely as the general population of students to report they were not planning to pursue any post-secondary education.

The average GPA for LGBT students who were frequently physically harassed was half a grade lower than that of LGBT students experiencing less harassment (2.6 versus 3.1).

California schools are no different. According to the California Safe Schools Coalition�s �Safe Place to Learn� report, more than 200,000 students experience harassment based on sexual orientation each year in the state�s public schools. And the number seems to be climbing.

Obviously the leaders of the Christian Right don�t give a damn about these students, only their own twisted agenda of bigotry and hate.

In propagating that agenda they are aided by another group that shares their views. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is a leading proponent of �ex-gay therapies� that have been known to include exorcisms and electric shock treatments. �Ex-gay therapies� have been decried as �unethical,� �dangerous� and �harmful� by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the American Counseling Association.

Dr. Joseph Berger serves on the �Scientific Advisory Committee� of NARTH. He has publicly encouraged students to make fun of, ridicule and humiliate LGBT students. Can violence be far behind?

�Joseph Berger has confused therapy with thuggery and he should be censured for unethical and unprofessional conduct,� said TWO�s [Truth Wins Out] Executive Director Wayne Besen. �His comments put children at risk and exposes NARTH�s dangerous agenda at a time when the �ex-gay� industry is attempting to infiltrate public schools.�

NARTH is an organization on the fringes of the mental health mainstream that uses long outdated and disproved psychological theories about gay people and repackages them as if they were new findings. [link added]

Two of the most homophobic, pro-discrimination �Christian� lobbying groups in America -- James Dobson�s Focus on the Family and Louis P. Sheldon�s Traditional Values Coalition -- joined the chorus of praise for Schwarzenegger�s veto of equality, respect for others, and basic civility, and urged more such vetoes:

Mona Passignano, state issues analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said two other anti-family bills have passed the California Legislature, but Schwarzenegger has not yet announced whether he will sign or veto them.

� AB 606 would require schools to adopt a state-mandated anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, particularly focusing on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also give the state Superintendent of Public Instruction broad authority to remove state funding from school districts deemed to be doing to [sic] little to combat discrimination.

� AB 1056 would allocate $250,000 to establish a pilot program in some schools that would redefine the concept of �tolerance,� urging school children to not just passively allow, but actively convey respect toward homosexuality . . . [italics added]

Opposed to �anti-discrimination and anti-harassment� policies and to programs that promote �tolerance� and �respect� for all students. Such attitudes clearly expose a malicious desire to hurt and do harm, as well as the disdain the Christian Right has for equality and respect for others, two of the cornerstones of the religion they claim to represent.

Passignano called bills that promote equality and respect for others �anti-family.� How are equality and respect for others �anti-family�? Or is she just being her usual bigoted self?

Previously Ms. Passignano had made similar nonsensical, pro-discrimination statements in an August 24, 2006 article in which she railed against SB 1437 and other pending equality legislation in California:

�What all four bills will do, they will reinforce homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism in a positive light,� Focus State Issues Analyst Mona Passignano told WorldNetDaily.

So what�s wrong with a positive light? Maybe nothing.

But, she said, �They will keep people from saying anything negative about them.�

You cannot preach the Gospel. If you want to preach about Romans 1, you can�t. Someone could say, �That makes me feel bad,�� she said. �You cannot preach what the Bible says.

�If you�re a Christian, it�s got to be alarming. If you are not a Christian, it�s got to be alarming,� she said. �Because what comes next?

�Is someone going to say, �You can�t drive a red car, that�s the color of heterosexuals. You have to drive a purple car?� [italics added]

�A positive light.� Apparently, Ms. Passignano doesn�t want anything positive said about gay and lesbian Americans. What a shame she and others are so blinded by dogmatic bigotry that they can�t -- or refuse to -- see the good in all God�s children.

�Preach the Gospel?� Last time I checked, there were only four �Gospels�: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Romans 1 is not a gospel. It�s dogma created by Paul, the misogynist misogamist.

Intended to inspire fear, Ms. Passignano�s �red car� statement is just plain stupid. It�s akin to her boss James Dobson�s assertion in his book, Marriage Under Fire, that legalizing same-sex marriage would bring about the end of the world.

One of America�s most vicious homophobes, Louis P. Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Tradition Values Coalition, vented his sanctimonious wrath in two separate articles. One article on the TVC website bore the title �Praise God, Governor Schwarzenegger Vetoes SB 1437.� It began with TVC�s usual bogus hyperbole: �A public outcry was lifted by your letters, phone calls, and rallies joining the entire Republican caucus in the California Senate and Assembly asking Governor Schwarzenegger to veto SB 1437 which was passed by the homosexual dominated Democratic legislature.�

�Homosexual dominated Democratic legislature?� There are only a handful of openly gay legislators in the California Assembly and Senate. I always thought blatant lying with malice aforethought was against �traditional� Christian values.

In the other September 7 TVC article, �Lucky Louie� had this to say: �Governor Schwarzenegger is to be commended for vetoing SB 1437, a bigoted bill that would have discriminated against people of faith in California and promoted the homosexual agenda in the public schools . . ." [italics added]

�Bigoted bill?� The purpose of SB 1437 was to counter bigotry. But then again, Sheldon�s view of things is always ass-backwards.

True Christians and other people of genuine faith embrace equality and respect for others, things Sheldon doesn�t have a clue about.

�The homosexual agenda�: is one of Sheldon�s favorite phrases and the title of his book. The so-called �gay agenda� was succinctly expressed by Rep. Barney Frank in his speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention:

Specifically, we want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.

They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.

As for Schwarzenegger and his veto of equality, respect for others, and basic civility in the state�s public schools, California Progress Report�s Frank D. Russo said it well:

Yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1437 by Senator Sheila Kuehl. It speaks volumes about the pandering that he must do to the right-wing base of the Republican Party and the social conservatives who have been criticizing him for any actions that point in the direction of equal treatment for gays, lesbians, and others on the basis of their sexual orientation. Politics is the only explanation that one can come up with, as the veto message he issued makes no sense and contradicts the plain language of the bill.

SB 1437 would have simply added sexual orientation to the prohibitions of current provisions of the Education Code that outlaw discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and other classifications that we find odious in a modern California. It only added �sexual orientation� and a definition from the Penal Code to the language of the law. It did not otherwise change any of the other parts of these laws. Period.

In his veto statement, the Governor said: �I am vetoing Senate Bill 1437 because this bill attempts to offer vague protection when current law already provides clear protection against discrimination in our schools based on sexual orientation.� Explain to me what this �vague protection� is -- when simply adding a category to laws that otherwise have existed for some time and are perfectly fine for prohibiting discrimination on other grounds . . .

As he [Schwarzenegger] paddles a little right and a little left, without strong leadership and core principles in evidence, school children suffer. A small step to solve these problems and enact good public policy for the state have been expediently abandoned when the going got a little rough on the right. Schwarzenegger has failed to stand up to those bullies and bigots. [�Schwarzenegger� link added]

The Christian Right had been railing against SB 1437 -- as well as the other equality legislation -- and making grandiose claims and empty threats for some time. In damning SB 1437 Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, had blustered, �If the governor of California �abandons children� by signing this or any of the other school sexual indoctrination bills, . . . �pro-family voters will abandon him� when he runs for re-election in November� [italics added].

�Abandons children?� Perhaps Thomasson might want to speak with two other �pro-family� advocates -- Randall Terry and Alan Keyes -- about how they abandoned their children. He might also want to read June Maxam�s investigative report on how �Randall Terry has engaged in one of the most vile, despicable, dishonest acts imaginable.� Thomasson might also want to review the vile, faith-based, anti-gay campaign Alan Keyes ran against Barack Obama in 2004 that resulted in him being defeated by one of the largest margins in U.S. history.

Thomasson and his bigot buddies might also want to consider political repercussions, such as how Rep. Joel Hefley, a Colorado Republican retiring after 20 years in the House, has refused to endorse the GOP primary winner because he ran a �sleazy� anti-gay campaign.

Thomasson�s prediction that �pro-family voters� would abandon Schwarzenegger if he signed SB 1437 into law rang hollow even before Arnold embraced political expediency. In a September 5 WorldNet Daily article Thomasson blustered: �Governor, unless you veto these bad bills, the people will veto you.�

Schwarzenegger�s Democratic challenger is Phil Angelides, who has vowed to legalize same-sex marriage and is adamantly pro-equality. As Dan Walters noted in his article for Scripps News, �as much as they may dislike Schwarzenegger�s signing SB 1441 and other bills, those on the anti-gay rights side know that were he to lose to Democratic challenger Phil Angelides, the full gay rights agenda would be quickly enacted.�

WorldNet Daily -- lorded over by Joseph Farah -- carried a second article about the California pro-equality bills later in the day on September 5. The wording was deceptive and misleading. In other words, the article blatantly lied:

The bills would force California public schools to change curricula (SB1437) and policies (AB606) to promote transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality to children as young as kindergarten without their parents� permission.

AB1056 also would spend $250,000 to turn 10 schools into �sexual indoctrination centers,� officials said.

The governor already has signed one bill [The Nondiscrimination in State Programs and Activities Act] that will require private schools including Christian colleges and others to promote homosexuality if any of their students receive state grants.

It requires �any program or activity that . . . receives any financial assistance from the state� to support and promote both �gender identity� and �sexual orientation� issues. [italics added]

The fear-mongering hyperbole of �sexual indoctrination centers� is disgustingly shameful even for the ultra-conservative fanatics of the Christian Right. AB 1056, the �Public School Curriculum: Tolerance and Intergroup Relations Instruction� initiative authorizes $25,000 grants to 10 schools that would then work with human relations commissions to create �Tolerance Education Pilot Programs�:

This bill would establish the Tolerance Education Pilot Program, to be administered by the State Department of Education, to promote instruction in public schools on tolerance, as defined, and intergroup relations as part of the instruction in the history/social science content standards, as specified. The bill would require the department to select 10 schools to participate in the program and receive one-time grants of $25,000 each . . .

The Nondiscrimination in State Programs and Activities Act prevents public, taxpayer funds from being used by organizations and businesses that practice religion-based discrimination against fellow citizens in the public arena. �Christian� schools and other religious institutions could keep their �moral codes.� They just can no longer use public, taxpayer money to force those codes onto everyone, or discriminate against American citizens who don�t buy into their jaundiced dogma.

Note how often the WorldNet Daily article used the word �promote.� None of the California legislation forces anyone to �promote� or �support� anything other than treating all American citizens equally and with respect. But �equality� and �respect� are not in the Christian Right�s vocabulary. They prefer using their perverted form of religion to promote discrimination, hate and, most of all, themselves.

Consider the words of Rev. D. James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, who�s encouraging his denomination to pull their kids out of public schools: �The infusion of an atheistic, amoral, evolutionary, socialistic, one-world, anti-American system of education in our public schools has indeed become such that if it had been done by an enemy, it would be considered an act of war� [italics added].

The leaders of the Christian Right do so love to cloak everything in terms of �war,� the ultimate expression of hate. But that makes sense: they can see outside only what�s in their minds and hearts. And when did equality and respect for others become �anti-American�? But then again, Rev. Kennedy is less interested in quality education than building his own political power.

Another zealot vehemently opposed to public schools promoting equality and respect is Charles Lowers, executive director of Consider Homeschooling, �a national Christian ministry that introduces Believers to the blessings of private biblical homeschooling. We believe the Lord Jesus is restoring Christian families and saving the souls of children through biblical homeschooling and that God wants Christians to know the truth about the bad fruit of public school.�

Furthering himself and his crusade, Lowers used the SB 1437 controversy to urge Christian parents not to send their children back to California�s public schools this fall where, according to him, they would be �molested by the curriculum.� But Mr. Lowers wasn�t done with his fear-mongering hyperbole: ��Now that the homosexuals are dictating curriculum,� he says, �80 to 90 percent of Christians should be home schooling -- not the other way around. Public school is no place for innocent little kids.��

Everyday the leaders of the Christian Right further expose themselves for what they are: fanatics who advocate discrimination and use hate cloaked in religion to advance themselves and their political power.

Their plan seems obvious: rape the public school system and then, through �biblical homeschooling,� produce a generation that believes Young Earth Creationism is science, non-Christians are inherently evil, and gay Americans are vermin deserving of no respect and certainly no civil rights. In short, they wish to produce an uneducated, ignorant generation they can control. The words of Thomas Jefferson come immediately to mind: �If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.�

Randy Thomasson, Karen England, Mona Passignano, Charles Lowers, D. James Kennedy, Lou Sheldon, their organizations and followers are willing to sacrifice children and desecrate the very concept of �public education� that the Founding Fathers saw as critical to the success of the republic, in order to satisfy their megalomaniacal desire for power by fostering the religion-based hate that inevitably leads to violence against others: �Nearly one-fifth (17.6%) of students had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth (11.8%) because of their gender expression.�

Their perverted Christianity is akin to that of 63-year-old self-proclaimed prophet Pastor Leonard Ray Owens of Fort Worth, Texas, who used it to justify raping a 22-year-old woman. According to the Associated Press, Owens told the young woman:

 . . . that a sex spirit and lesbian demon were inside her and needed to be cast out, police said. The pastor then asked her to lie on the floor and began yelling at her as if she were a demon, saying, �Loose her in the name of Jesus,� according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The woman told police that Owens pulled down her pants as he called for the demons to come out. When she tried to get up, he pushed her down, the affidavit said. The pastor then began to fight with her as if she were a demon before climbing on top of her, pinning her down, and raping her, police said.

Then Owens . . . ordered her to wash her face in the name of Jesus and to read Psalm 105:15, which says to do no harm to prophets . . .

Do recall that organizations sharing NARTH�s twisted �ex-gay� ideology have also used exorcisms to cast out homosexual demons. Indeed, Louis P. Sheldon says such practices are �necessary.�

A very wise woman recently asked me �Who will rid us of the evil lunatics?�

We will. We must. Public education and a civil, civilized society depend upon it.

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