Sunday, November 19, 2006

Conflict in the Committee

OK, I'm starting to get a little caught up here. I missed Wednesday's final meeting of the citizens advisory committee, being out of the country. Sounds like it was a little more exciting than usual.

For one thing, the committee received a memo from Dr. Jerry Weast, the Superintendent of Schools, about some ... complaints ... he had become aware of. Ruth Jacobs had sent a letter to the school board and to him, complaining about some wording in the condom lesson, and María Peña-Faustino -- a member of the citizens committee -- and some CRC members had made negative statements at the Board of Education's public comments. Dr. Weast wanted a response from the committee about these events.

It appears that Ruth Jacobs' comments were mostly about the STD curriculum, which is ... it's OK, maybe it needs to be updated, but it hasn't been, and the citizens committee has not been asked to evaluate it. She also wanted to add a couple of lines to the condom curriculum, as I discussed a couple of days ago. She submitted her petition with signatures of a couple hundred doctors, as well. The petition doesn't support either side of the debate.

One of the public comments was made by Grace Harley, aka "Reverend Grace." We've written about her before, she runs a little mission in DC that tries to "straighten out" gay people. She said:
I speak today because I am concerned that your proposed lesson plans for students on sexual orientation do not include former homosexuals or former transgenders like myself.

OK, fair enough, that's what public comments are for. We have seen Rev. Grace, and another guy once came down from a church in New Jersey to argue for including "ex-gays" in the curriculum. Richard Cohen came in once, as I recall, and addressed the school board. That's three. Fine, the school board will take those opinions into account, I'm sure.

Reverend Grace also said:
... the only sexual orientation in our school system which receives no respect are ex-gays and former transgenders like myself.

OK, fine. She gets two minutes just like everybody else.

Ah, but there was something strange here. I actually wonder why she said this:
Two of the committee members you appointed to develop the lesson plans show outright disrespect of the ex-gay community and even question our existence. Yet these same members promote tolerance for gays and transgenders.

I'm thinking through the committee, picturing each face, trying to figure out who she means. I don't know, this is weird. Two members -- which ones? I wish she'd said their names.

Then there was a statement by Henrietta Brown, who we know as "Retta," but on this blog she is sometimes "Bianca" and on the CRC web site she calls herself "Precious." She has an odd complaint:
The proposed 10th grade lesson on Sexual Orientation rigorously insists on identifying students as fitting into specific categories or "boxes" of sexual orientation. There is even a "box" for a child suffering from the mental illness, transgenderism. There are boxes for heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual orientation. However, only homosexual orientation is discussed extensively. The "box" for heterosexual orientation is completely ignored.

First of all, there aren't any "boxes." The word "box" has never been used. Second, nothing at all asks students to fit into any category or "box." They are just told what the standard categories are. I will ignore her stupid comment about transgenderism being a mental illness, just because ... they make it too easy sometimes, and you end up going off on tangents.

And as for the "box" of heterosexual orientation, the curriculum covers that ninety-nine percent of the time. These few classes are on sexual variation, and yes they focus on ... variations.

Whatever, this was a comment of a type we've seen many, many times before. CRC boilerplate. This is what they sound like when they talk in their sleep.

The CRC's Steina Walter picked up Ruth Jacobs' line about the authorship of the textbook chapter that is being used in tenth grade. This cracks me up. Does anybody ever know who writes these textbook chapters? What, the lady's PhD isn't from a good enough school?

Here's Ms. Walter:
I was startled to find that the 10th Grade curriculum "Respect for Differences in Human Sexuality" was taken from a "home grown" curriculum created solely for the Los Angeles school District and had only one author Judy Chiasson.

Ms Chiasson "appears to have been selected as the author on the basis of her employment of an LGBT advocacy group Project 10. Ms. Chiasson although pursuing a PhD about the "efficacy of LGBT Diversity training had no advanced degree.

I'm not changing the punctuation or grammar. This is taken from the page Ms. Walter submitted. I don't know what those quotation marks are supposed to mean.

Speaking of tangents. I just don't know how to address this one. Ruth Jacobs had sent emails to the citizens committee making this point, and even took up a bunch of time in a meeting to criticize this lady who wrote a textbook section that the school district plans to use. And here they are taking up the school board's time with it. Is this really the best they've got?

Finally, committee member María Peña-Faustino addressed the board. She talked about the most recent citizens advisory committee meeting:
At the meeting, after the committee finished discussing adding the term transgender, the term ex-gays was also offered to be added to the vocabulary. The committee had been tolerant, open and supportive of homosexuals. I was absolutely stunned to see that the other category that of "ex-gay" in the 10th grade dictionary was not allowed to be added.

That's close. Actually, Peter Sprigg had proposed that the term "former homosexual" should be included under the category of "sexual orientation." There was a chart with a category "Sexual orientation," and under it were "heterosexual," "homosexual," and "bisexual." As there should be. He wanted to add "former homosexual." There was some discussion and the committee voted against it.

Well, for one thing, it isn't a fourth kind of sexual orientation.

She had more:
I lived in New York for 18 years and five of my best friends were gay. Two died of AIDS. Two left the gay life style and married women. One lives in California. The other married in New York and moved to Florida. The other one is still gay. So even though I did not have an agenda, I think the need to support "one more choice" that of "ex-gay" is just and fair. I have seen it with my own eyes.

In the meeting, Ms. Peña-Faustino had told us about her friends, pretty much this same story, and appeared to be on the brink of tears. Then she went on to complain that people act like those kinds of people don't exist. It had nothing to do with the discussion that had just occurred.

I don't know if a guy stops being gay, but let's say for the purpose of argument that it happens sometimes. OK, so what? Now he's straight. We had a category for that. What's the problem, does he need to get Brownie points for changing? Man, we all change. I don't do the things I used to do, but I don't expect to win any awards for that.

Didn't Bocephus or Waylon or somebody have a pretty good song about that?

The people who talk about "ex-gays" just love to feel persecuted. But look, first of all, if there are "ex-gay" people there aren't very many of them. They are way outnumbered, for instance, by "ex-ex-gays," and also by "ex-straights," for that matter -- you don't want to start this snowball rolling. And second, as I said, if you're actually "ex-gay" then you're simply straight. Heterosexual. What's the big deal? Nobody cares if you change, nobody's going to object. It's your own business.

The committee discussed these events, I am told, and drafted a response. First, they moved to send this message to the Superintendent in response to his memo:
The committee has completed its deliberations and made its recommendations, and we reaffirm our recommendations after reviewing the information provided.

Then they voted to send him another statement:
We express surprise and disappointment that committee members, without showing the courtesy of notifying the chair or other committee members, went outside the process and violated the spirit that committee members worked hard to develop.

I understand there was some pretty intense discussion, lots of emotion.

Polarization was inevitable here. Remember, a perfectly good curriculum was developed and approved two years ago. The school board was unanimous in accepting it. Then the people came along and did everything they could to disrupt the system. There were lots of conservatives on that previous citizens committee but the nutty views had not dominated and this particular subgroup could not accept losing. The whole story of this "controversy" for the past two years has been the attempts by the Recall Group to disrupt the process.

And now, the school district's proposal didn't cater to their beliefs. The new committee didn't accept their suggestions. The community didn't vote for their candidates.

I am not so optimistic as to believe they'll give up, but a sensible person would.

So ... when do ya figure they'll file that next lawsuit?


Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

One other point worth mentioning:

At the last CAC meeting, Focus on the Family Vice President and PFOX rep Peter Sprigg moved to eliminate all use of the Holt textbook material (the textbook material criticized in the CRC testimony to the Board). That motion was defeated overwhelmingly.

One of the things that the CRC people conveniently ignore in criticizing the Holt textbook is that the material was reviewed and recommended by four pediatricians from National Children's Medical Center who were offered as consultants by the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. But I guess the CRC folks and the Dobson Focus on the Family Folks are certain they know better than the mainstream medical profession.

November 19, 2006 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Fishback said,But I guess the CRC folks and the Dobson Focus on the Family Folks are certain they know better than the mainstream medical profession.

Didn't the CRC nuts say "they were representative of the mainstream" in their first freakfest against the tossed out curriculum?

So yeah they seem to think that. But then again their same fantasies have "ex gays" in them as well.


November 20, 2006 12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weeks ago, Maria Pena-Faustino made the following recommendation for a change in the 8th grade sexual orientation lesson plan:

"I make a motion that the word tolerance be removed from the curriculum because it is not in the framework for healthy relationships. And that the concept of effective communication which is in the framework (4.2.a) be included."

Then, after not "showing the courtesy of notifying the chair or other committee members," Ms. Pena-Faustino "went outside the process and violated the spirit that committee members worked hard to develop" and made the following Public Comment to the Board of Education on November 14, 2006:

"I initially thought the committee was tolerant, open, and giving. I have been disturbed to find total opposition and bias from the committee. (Votes always 11-3) I feel my vote is a waste of time. I feel responsible to you for the outcome. I don't know if I am going back to the committee."

I find it very interesting that once Ms. Pena-Faustino realized she held the minority opinion on the CAC, it was suddenly important to mention tolerance. Let's hope she now knows how important tolerance is for all minorities.

November 20, 2006 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ted said:

Didn't the CRC nuts say "they were representative of the mainstream" in their first freakfest against the tossed out curriculum?

Hehe. Freakfest.

November 20, 2006 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faustino said to BOE(Votes always 11-3)

Well that in itself should tell those in minority view that their goal of being majority was a pipe dream. It should also tell CRC, PFOX and Faustino that the majority on CAC are not putting up with their nonsense. If Faustino came on CAC for "her agenda" then BYE BYE on her "I don't know if I am going back to the committee" statement at BOE and to her as well.

Now wonder how much collusion went on for all of them to show up at BOE together to act like crybabies?

Shades of Retta, Michelle and company for last CAC go around.


November 21, 2006 12:31 AM  

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