PHILADELPHIA (BP)–The Philadelphia School District has declared October “Gay and Lesbian History Month” on its 2006-07 school calendar, touching off a wave of protest from parents who say homosexuality conflicts with their religious beliefs.
The firestorm over the calendar was reported Sept. 28 by the Philadelphia Inquirer, which said the school district had received about 120 complaints, including one from a parent who said she was pulling her child out of school for the entire month of October.
Approximately 200,000 calendars were printed and sent to parents and others who have ties to the district. All of the calendars have October as being “Gay and Lesbian History Month.”
“We knew that this would be controversial,” Cecilia Cummings, a spokeswoman for the school district, told the newspaper. “When you deal with diversity, there are some hot-button issues that emerge.”
But conservative leaders and many parents say the school district went too far.
“This shows the whole problem with gay activism and so-called gay rights,” Peter LaBarbera, president of the conservative group Americans for Truth, told Baptist Press. “If you promote so-called homosexual rights, by definition you have to undermine people’s religious rights and religious beliefs.
“If you have a gay history month, you’re basically saying, ‘This is a wonderful part of American history — homosexual history — let’s celebrate it and let’s teach the kids that this is like civil rights. Are they going to teach the role that homosexual behavior had in the onset of HIV and AIDS? Is that going to be part of the history?”
One parent, Senita Watson, said she plans on homeschooling her second-grade daughter during October. She visited the school district offices Sept. 27 and has called on other parents to boycott as well.
“How can you celebrate gay and lesbian month? What are you going to teach my daughter?” Watson asked, according to The Inquirer. “They need to have a nonviolence month, not a gay and lesbian month…. Our children have enough to worry about with drugs.”
The school district is not preparing any district-wide curriculum or holding any special events for October, Cummings said, although presumably individual teachers and schools can plan their own agenda.
“This is the first step,” said LaBarbera, who added he has no doubt that district-wide curriculum eventually will follow. “The whole homosexual agenda is implemented incrementally…. First you have the legislation about hate crimes, and then you have sexual orientation laws, and then you have teaching it in schools — and that’s where they are now.”
Cummings told The Inquirer three other special celebrations also are on the school calendar: Hispanic Heritage (September), African American (February) and Asian Pacific American (May). Some people complain about African American month, she said.
“‘Why isn’t there a white male history month?’ we’ll hear,” she told The Inquirer.
LaBarbera, though, said there is no comparison between homosexuality and race.
“The schools are equating homosexuality with racial tolerance,” LaBarbera said. “Obviously, racial tolerance is accepted by 99.99 percent of Americans. But there’s a huge cultural divide on the issue of homosexuality, and the school district here is mimicking gay activists’ platitudes in response to this. There’s no respect for people who oppose homosexual behavior….
“They’re promoting one side of the issue to vulnerable and impressionable children. This is all about celebrating homosexuality, and there’s no consideration given for people from traditional faith households.”