California Senate Bill 1437 begins:
Existing law prohibits instruction or school sponsored activities that reflect adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry. Existing law prohibits the State Board of Education and the governing board of any school district from adopting textbooks or other instructional materials that contain any matter that reflects adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry. This bill would revise the list of characteristics included in these provisions to include race or ethnicity, gender, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, and religion.
The introduction says that the legislation would merely amend various sections of California law to add gender and sexual orientation — heterosexual or otherwise — to the categories of people that are already protected from sweeping stereotypes and discrimination in the schools.
In fact, the legislation goes a bit farther than that: A couple of clauses within the bill add discussion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender history and culture to the required content of social studies courses. That would certainly be enough to annoy cultural conservatives.
But instead of criticizing the gay-pride clauses within the legislation, Focus on the Family took the low road on April 5. Collecting quotations from antigay activist Robert Knight and a California religious-right outfit, Focus parrots a string of false allegations in order to discredit the entire bill.
Ron Prentice of the California Family Council falsely states that the legislation would “reflect negatively upon historic faith perspectives in public education.” The legislation only does this if one’s “faith” consists primarily of intentional ignorance and bigotry.
Prentice implies that the legislation gives special treatment to gender and sexual orientation. In fact, it treats them no differently than other categories that are undeserving of sweeping defamation and discrimination in the public schools.
Knight — front man for Beverly LaHaye’s Concerned Women for America — inaccurately states that the legislation deals with gender “in such a way as to deny that there are really naturally born boys and girls.” The legislation does not prevent teaching of standard gender roles, nor does it define or redefine gender; the bill merely prevents defamation by schools against atypical gender roles.
Given an opportunity to tell the facts and criticize one portion of a California bill, Focus on the Family unfortunately has chosen to disseminate untruths as a means to defend bigotry and sexism in public schools.