Is This Their Standard?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Is This Their Standard?

Reported in today's New York Times:
Emboldened by the political right's growing influence on public policy, opponents of school activities aimed at educating students about homosexuality or promoting acceptance of gay people are mounting challenges to such programs, at individual schools, at statehouses and in Congress.

Chief among the targets are sex education programs that include discussions of homosexuality, and after-school clubs that bring gay and straight students together ... After-school clubs known as Gay-Straight Alliances, which draw together students to share common experiences and concerns, have become a particular source of conflict.

... Federal law often frowns on administrators' barring some clubs while allowing others, but [Cleveland, Ga.] school officials told the students that they would abolish all after-school organizations before allowing a gay-straight alliance.

... Complaints over the students' endeavor led State Senator Nancy Schaefer to introduce a bill that would have required a parent's written permission before a student could join any after-school club. The legislature later deferred to the Georgia Department of Education, which is now considering a modified approach allowing each local school board to develop its own policy.

Ms. Schaefer dismisses the compromise as too weak.

"I just don't feel like homosexual clubs have anything to do with readin', writin' and 'rithmetic," she said.
If this is the standard that Ms. Schaefer and the Religious Right want to use as to whether a club should be allowed to form in a high school, then there are an awful lot of clubs that would be disallowed, including the Christian-oriented group for high schoolers known as YoungLife.

(If Schaefer and company tried to argue that YoungLife has something to do with "readin'" because Bible reading is encouraged, the Gay-Straight Alliance club could easily present a reading list of its own, consisting of "Giovanni's Room" and the like.)

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