Parents Can’t “Opt Out” of Lessons About Family DiversityThursday 03, December 2009
By Brittney Shepherd, Staff Producer | Straightlaced
In a case that GroundSpark has been following closely, the Alameda County Superior Court ruled this week that lessons designed to address anti-gay and lesbian bullying in the district’s elementary schools do not simply constitute “health lessons” and therefore are not subject to the state’s policy of allowing parents to “opt out” of having their children participate in those lessons. Even more importantly, Judge Frank Roesch ruled that the state education code’s requirement that schools address discrimination and bias effectively supersedes any potential opt-out provisions. Our film, That’s a Family!, used widely throughout the country to support children from all different kinds of families, is part of the curriculum that’s been under debate.
GroundSpark’s Cristy Chung, Director of Community Programs and the Respect For All Project had this to say about the ruling: “This critical decision reinforces the importance of creating safe and inclusive schools for all children and their families. My hope is that we find a way for our communities to support one another and together teach our children what respect really means.”
This ruling is consistent with a 2007 ruling in Massachusetts clearly stating that while parents have the right to direct the upbringing of their children, that right does not extend to directing what a school teaches. (You can read more about this ruling in the It’s Elementary curriculum guide). And that preparing students for citizenship in a diverse society and fostering an environment in which lesbian and gay students can learn are sufficient justifications for implementing LGBT-inclusive curriculum.
Here’s a link to the news story on the ruling in Alameda County, CA.
And to see the trailer or stream That’s a Family!, please click here.