(Xposted at www.mydesert.com as BluePalmSpringsBoyz)
I just received this Press Release from Equality California regarding an effort of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Advocates for Faith and Freedom (AFF) to prevent the enforcement of the Students Civil Rights Act (SB 777) that protects students from discrimination, harassment, and bullying in publicly-funded schools.
As a member of the Palm Springs Unified School District board of directors whose leadership is now in question due to the possiblity that the PSUSD and the school board may face sanctions due to their inability to meet academic standards, Gary Jeandron, must make his stand known regarding the enforcement of SB 777 and regarding discrimination, harassment and bullying of students.
Jeandron is also a declared candidate for the Republican nomination for the CA 80th Assembly District. His website indicates that as a member of the School Board of Directors, Jeandron supervises a district with 22,000 students and an annual budget of $191 million. Unfortunately, he did not use his position as a member of the Board to help students achieve academic standards or was unable to influence the Board in order to implement any plan that he formulated. Now, the pressure is on Jeandron to indicate where he stands regarding SB 777 and its implementation.
AFF’s website states: “WHEN YOU PUT ON YOUR JESUS GLASSES, YOU CAN SEE THE TRUTH!” The AFF is a non-profit law firm whose goal is ‘protecting our religious liberty in the courts.” In other words, AFF’s intent is to help to implement a theocratic state where religion, their religion, dictates school policy. Implicit in AFF’s policy statement is also the fact that they want their religious liberty protected and not the religious liberty of those who have differing faiths. Great, faith-based law now.
The ADF is another so-called Christian organization that purports to defend Religious Freedom, Sanctity of Human Life, and Family Values. Again, clearly a reference to what they perceive to be religious freedom, sanctity of human life, and family values. They presume that only their view on these issues is the correct one and should be the prevailing one. I thought that the religious culture wars ended centuries ago in Europe!
So, will Jeandron appeal to his radical right base and support the efforts of the AFF and the ADF and their attempts to develop a theocratic state based on their views of so-called Christian principles or will Jeandron support the right of students at every grade level to attend school and to live their lives without discrimination, harassment, and bullying? Will Jeandron take a leadership stance that protects elementary, middle, and secondary school students from discrimination, harassment, and bullying because of perceived or actual sexual orientation.
Is it a family value that an elementary school student should continue to suffer discrimination because someone perceives that he or she might be gay or lesbian in the schools? This is not my family value or that of a majority of Palm Springs residents. Is it a family value that a middle school student should continue to suffer harassment because he or she is gay or lesbian? That is not my family value and it is not the family value of most Palm Springs residents. Is it a family value that a high school student is prevented from doing well academically because he or she is bullied at school and in the school yard because he or she is gay? That is not my family or community value. What are Jeandron’s family values and are they diametrically opposed to those of most Palm Springs residents? Does Jeandron believe that students ought to be able to study and to achieve academically without a hostile environment?
Seems like AFF and ADF fall into the category of bullies. I wonder what the members were like on the school playground. Just sayin’.
What follows if the Press Release from Equality California (EQCA) and the Gay-Straight Student Alliance Network (GSA):
Equality California and GSA Network Move to Intervene in Lawsuit that Challenges Student Civil Rights Act, California Nondiscrimination Statutes
SAN DIEGO – Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network are seeking to intervene in a lawsuit filed by anti-gay organizations that would prevent enforcement of California statutes protecting students from discrimination, harassment and bullying in publicly-funded schools.
EQCA and the GSA Network today filed a motion to intervene in federal district court in San Diego to defend the California statutes that prohibit discrimination and harassment in publically-funded schools, including the newly-enacted Student Civil Rights Act (SB 777). EQCA was the official sponsor of SB 777, and both organizations actively supported the law. The two organizations are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the Transgender Law Center, the law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP and the Law Office of David C. Codell.
“By enacting the Student Civil Rights Act, the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a clear message that California will not tolerate discrimination in our schools,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “This law protects all youth in our public schools. It helps prevent harassment and discrimination so students can learn free from threats and physical violence.”
The Student Civil Rights Act, authored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, reinforces existing California laws that prohibit discrimination in publicly-funded schools and activities, including discrimination based on religion, race, disability, gender and sexual orientation. California law has prohibited discrimination in public education on these bases including sexual orientation and gender – for years. SB 777 did not change the categories of discrimination prohibited by law, but merely updated the Education Code to clearly reflect current law so school administrators and teachers know their responsibilities to protect students without having to cross-reference other sections of state law.
“We’re intervening in this lawsuit because our student members advocated for SB 777 and are eager to defend it,” said GSA Network Executive Director Carolyn Laub. “Thousands of our members have endured daily harassment at school based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s a shame there are adults who don’t think all students deserve to have a safe place to learn.”
According to the 2001 California Healthy Kids Survey, nearly 30 percent of California youth in grades seven to 11 report experiencing harassment or bullying based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.
“This law protects all students, plain and simple, irrespective of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Brian Chase. “With 200,000 of California’s school children every year finding themselves victims of harassment or violence, the need for this law is beyond argument.”
“Every student has the right to be safe at school,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “SB 777 simply makes this clear. The organizations bringing this suit are wasting taxpayers’ money and seeking to undermine common sense protections for all California students,” Minter said.
“The Transgender Law Center is proud of our Legislature for passing a bill that protects all of California’s students,” said Transgender Law Center Legal Director Kristina Wertz. “Education is dependant upon safe and constructive learning environments for all young people. All youth deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
California’s Legislature passed SB 777 in September and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law on October 12.
The lawsuit challenging SB 777 was filed by lawyers for Advocates for Faith and Freedom and the Alliance Defense Fund last month in federal district court in San Diego.