Pro-Gay Schools Law Hit; California Groups Aim for Repeal

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennifer Kabbany, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A new law that amends California's education code has many of the state's conservatives in an uproar and taking drastic measures to repeal it, saying the changes go too far in promoting a homosexual agenda in public schools.

The law known as SB 777 is due to take effect in January and forbids any school activity that "promotes a discriminatory bias" on the basis of "gender" or "sexual orientation."

Parents, preachers, conservative lawyers and Sacramento-based pro-family advocacy groups have mounted campaigns against the law in recent weeks, efforts that include pulling children out of school, circulating a referendum petition and filing a lawsuit.

"If this is not repealed, the next step is to get out of California itself - it's like Sodom and Gomorrah," said Pastor Vincent Xavier, one of many church leaders across the state who helped spread the word of a two-day school boycott in late November to protest the law.

The mix of protesters contend the law would allow students to decide whether they are male or female, potentially wreaking "havoc" in campus locker rooms and bathrooms, and bans lessons and any other school activities that are construed as portraying homosexuality negatively.

"People have said enough is enough," said Karen England, executive director of Capital Resource Family Impact, the Sacramento-based nonprofit advocacy group behind the referendum petition. "I think they realize it's gone too far."

At issue is a law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October that proponents say clarifies and streamlines - but does not expand - existing civil rights protections for students spelled out in California's education code.

"There has been no change in California law, none at all," said state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, the Los Angeles Democrat who authored the original bill.

An avowed lesbian, Ms. Kuehl said the amendments simply spell out in the education code laws it has referenced for several years in the state's penal code with regard to various forms of discrimination.

"The education code already included all of this by reference to the penal code," she said. "If there was going to be any problem with that, it would have already arisen."

She said the conservative campaign against SB 777 "is nothing but a cynical attempt to exploit their supporters for more money."

Opponents of the measure say they are protecting the state's students and Christian teachers from an overzealous homosexual lobby.

"The special interests are in control in Sacramento," said Bob Tyler, lead counsel for the Southern California-based law firm Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which filed a federal lawsuit against the law in late November. "The homosexual lobby is so powerful, it has passed over 40 bills since 2000 forcing their agenda on society."

Mr. Tyler said the latest law is a "ridiculous" example of that agenda. SB 777 redefines "gender" in the education code so as to include "gender identity" - a potentially dangerous change, he said.

"Any testosterone-driven boy in the midst of his high school era who wants to wreak a little havoc, all he has to do is say, 'I believe I am a girl, and I am entitled to use the girls' locker room, and you can't stop me, or you are discriminating against me,' " he said.

The notion of boys using girls' bathrooms, or vice versa, isn't farfetched, said Mrs. England, pointing to a 2005 Los Angeles Unified School District policy already mandating as much. …