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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Courage Campaign asks for truth in dialogue about SB 48

Editors note: The Courage Campaign sent this letter to Paulo Sibaja of the "Stop SB 48" campaign earlier this week in response to a series of inaccurate information being sent out about the FAIR Education Act, which was signed into California law on July 14.

Mr. Paulo Sibaja
Stop SB 48, Proponent
660 J Street, Ste. 250
Sacramento, CA 95814

August 22, 2011

Dear Mr. Sibaja:

We are writing to call your attention to inaccurate information coming out of your campaign to overturn non-discrimination requirements for school instruction. It has recently come to our attention that some of your signature gatheres are telling people that the FAIR Education Act mandates that homosexuality be taught to kindergartners. Indeed, your campaign newsletter today reiterated that message.

As you know, that is entirely false. This new law has nothing to do with sex education. Rather, the law simply prevents schools from adopting learning materials with a discriminatory bias or negative stereotypes based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and sexual orientation. The law merely requires that California schools integrate age-appropriate, factual information about social movements, current events and the social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and disabled individuals into existing history and social studies lessons, along with other key contributions from minorities.

For instance, the kinds of lessons that local schools might consider including are a discussion of the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969 that helped spark the modern-day LGBT civil rights movements and that were directly related to other civil rights movements of the 50s and 60s. Students might also learn about the recent repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don'te Tell" policy, which banned openly gay people from serving in the military. Similarly, there was also a process in racially integrating the military and allowing women to serve. The curriculum might include the history of legal discrimination against LGBT people, including the executive order signed by President Eisenhower banning gays and lesbians from government service, which was only overturned in the 1990s. This sad chapter of legalized discrimination often led to violence, some results of which we see today through the tragic bullying which has resulted in death.

Obviously, none of these examples include teaching homosexuality to kindergartners or anyone else.

Parents are understandably concerned about what their children learn in school. That's why the lessons related to the FAIR Education Act will be developed at the local level, so that school districts along with parents and teachers will decide what's appropriate for each classroom. The law does not specify a grade level for the instruction to begin. The material that will be taught is age-appropriate and factual.

We have no doubt you want to be honest, but your current destructive, misguided, anti-gay campaign hurts real people. I'm sure that is not your intent.

We ask that you re-think your tactics and present the facts about what this law is truly about, rather than resorting to lies and scare tactics that so debase political dialogue.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss this further.

Cordially,

Rick Jacobs
Chair and Founder