A California school district decision to mandate a new curriculum requiring children as young as five years old to be taught about homosexual and transgender communities has prompted significant protest from parents who charged that a "political agenda" is pressing age-inappropriate material upon their children.
The Unified School District in Alameda has proposed a curriculum with the stated intention of addressing bullying, respect and acceptance. The curriculum includes a 45-minute Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) lesson once a year from kindergarten through fifth grade. The kindergarten lesson will focus on the harm of teasing while the fifth graders will study sexual orientation stereotypes, Fox News reports.
Second grade course material includes a children’s book about homosexual penguins trying to create a family. The book is titled "And Tango Makes Three."
Protesting parents in Alameda, a suburb of San Francisco and Oakland, said the curriculum is definitely not age-appropriate and the issues are best learned at home. They were also angry they will not be allowed to keep their children out of the classes.
"I believe these children are far too young to be learning about what these issues mean," Alaina Stewart, an Alameda mother of three elementary school children, told Fox News. "These are adult issues and they are being thrust upon the children."
One father of schoolchildren charged that the policy would violate the First Amendment rights of those who don’t support homosexuality because of their religion.
Kirsten Vital, superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District, said students reported feeling bullied on LGBT issues.
"This work is in response to teachers asking for tools to combat name-calling and bullying at school," she told Fox News.
One parent named Michael Williams said he thought LGBT issues would come up anyway and that teachers should be prepared to help kids "respond appropriately."
Another father named David, who asked that his last name be withheld, told Fox News an "overwhelming" majority of parents spoke against the LGBT instruction at one of the school board meetings, but their protests had little effect.
"The chairman of the school board repeatedly claimed to the audience that the curriculum is evenly supported and opposed," he said. "I am beginning to lose confidence of the board, as it seems to have a preconceived political agenda and [does] not truly represent their constituents’ opposition to the curriculum."
Karen England, a spokeswoman for the conservative policy advocacy group Capitol Resource Institute, noted that there are five protected categories under anti-discrimination laws but the curriculum only focuses on sexual orientation.
She told Fox News she believes the curriculum committee purposely excluded religion. England suggested "an agenda is being pushed."
A May 21 report from the Capitol Resource Institute said that school board meetings had been packed with people and claimed 90 percent of those who spoke opposed the curriculum. The only speakers allowed during the Monday continuation of a May 12 meeting were those who had attended the first meeting.
Saying that speakers were "courteous" and presented "well-reasoned, articulate opposition," the Capitol Resource Institute reported that hecklers "repeatedly booed and hissed when parents and students rose to express their opposition.
One man angry that he was not allowed to address the audience about his support for the homosexual schoolwork physically charged one woman presenter, forcing other men in the audience to come to her defense and forcibly remove the attacker.
One father denounced the actions of homosexual advocates, saying "This bullying is taking place by the people you're asking me to entrust my children to!"
He also said he had recently been labeled a bigot and a white supremacist for expressing his opposition to what he called social indoctrination.
According to the Capitol Resource Institute, the few speakers who favored the curriculum repeatedly stated that the LGBT curriculum was "just a start" and "the first step" in teaching equality in classrooms. Some reportedly told the board that no parental opt-out should be allowed because the children of curriculum opponents were those who most needed the instruction.
Another speaker at the meeting, an Alameda principal and teacher for 45 years, said the curriculum would place teachers in a very difficult position. She expressed concern over the questions sexual classroom teaching would prompt in young children and was booed by supporters of the curriculum.
The final vote on the curriculum will take place on the evening of Tuesday May 26.