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Parents’ opt-out stance counters new ‘tolerance’ laws in Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–A coalition of pro-family groups, concerned that children in California’s public school students may be taught that homosexuality is just another lifestyle, have drafted a comprehensive new “opt-out” form that will let parents remove their children from any course where acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle is taught, CNSNews.com reported Jan. 18.

Last year, despite fierce opposition from parents’ rights groups, California Gov. Gray Davis signed into law two bills, AB1785 and AB1931, which — according to critics — will expose children to information and activities designed to influence their views about human sexuality and gender identity, including the areas of homosexuality, bisexuality, transvestitism, transsexuality and other alternative lifestyles.

Specifically, AB1785 requires “tolerance” education at all public schools and all grade levels, including kindergarten. AB1931 will provide taxpayer-funded grants to take children on unspecified field trips to teach them diversity and tolerance. Both bills took effect Jan. 1, prompting pro-family groups to counter with a comprehensive “opt-out” form.

California law already permits parents to opt their children out of sex education classes. But the new form goes beyond sex ed.

Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families, explained the difference this way: While the prior opt-out forms allow parents to remove their children only from sex education classes, the new form has a broader focus, allowing parents to remove their children from any course they consider objectionable.

He said the new form is necessary because the new laws signed by Gov. Davis encompass the entire curriculum. “When parents are being attacked, we bring in as much protection as we can” Thomasson told CNSNews.com.

The coalition that produced the new form includes representatives from the Campaign for California Families, the United States Justice Foundation, the Pacific Justice Institute, the Pro-Family Law Center and the Life Legal Defense Foundation.

Those groups say they are receiving hundreds of calls supporting their effort to give parents a say in what their children learn about “alternative” lifestyles.

June Jantz, an attorney with the California-based Pacific Justice Institute, told CNSNews.com that after her group publicized the new opt-out form on Dec. 28, they received “over 1,000 calls and e-mails” from people requesting more information about the bills and the opt-out form.

“After the Dec. 28th press release, we had over 1,100 hits on our website in one week” she said. “Parents are extremely concerned” she noted.

Dana Cody, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Fund, a pro-life group based in Napa, Calif., told CNSNews.com her group supports the opt-out form because of its strong interest in parental rights. “I used to work for [a California] Assembly committee and I saw firsthand how, oftentimes, parents had trouble opting their kids out of classes that taught issues that the parents wanted to teach in the privacy of their home.”

As part of her work with the Rutherford Institute, Cody said she handled a case where it took a court trial to get the school district to allow the parents to opt their children out of a class that taught sex education under the guise of career education.

“The family had three children and they [the children] had to take a career class that included sex education and homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. While in class, the children were asked a lot of questions that had to do with their personal life,” Cody told CNSNews.com.

As a result of the trial, the Antioch school district that required the career classes agreed to change the way it handled opt-out requests, Cody recounted.

Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation called one of the bills — AB1785 — “a dagger aimed at the innocence of our children.” He said he believes the law will be used “to isolate and target those who do not agree with the homosexual lifestyle.”

According to press material provided by the coalition, AB1785 “changes the law from education about different ethnicities to education about the ‘diversity of California’s population and discouraging the development of discriminatory attitudes and practices.'”

The aspect that troubles pro-family activists is the inclusion of “sexual orientation” in the list of diversity that is to be promoted in the public school curriculum. In addition, AB 1785 requires that public schools require a “human relations” class for all teachers who are certified to teach Limited English Proficiency students.

Press materials released by the coalition say the other bill — AB1931 — provides funding “for subjective programs that are given carte blanche to deal with ‘prejudice,’ ‘intolerance’ and ‘hatred.'”

Coalition leaders say taxpayers will be forced to give funding to “an undisclosed ‘tolerance’ organization to advise administrators. Because pro-homosexual groups usually promote their agenda under the ‘hate crimes’ banner, these public funds could easily go to a pro-homosexuality group to fund their ‘educational’ effort to indoctrinate schoolchildren and teachers.”

Attorney Scott Lively, president of the Pro-Family Law Center, said parents are alarmed over the bills. “I’ve been on several radio talk shows and afterwards I’ll get hundreds of telephone calls and hits on our website requesting the form,” he told CNSNews.com. “Most people who are contacting us now were not aware of the bills [before they were signed into law].”

Liverly said his group has started distributing the opt-out form at some high schools in the east Sacramento area.

When contacted for comment about the feasibility of parents using the form to opt their children from classes and programs they might find offensive, California Department of Education staff attorney Carolyn Pirillo did not return calls for comment.
Kennedy is a correspondent with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.

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  • Maria Elena Kennedy