Saturday, November 01, 2008

California Kindergarten Teacher Steps Into the "Gay Fray"

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and while I'm sure this teacher had good intentions, her actions weren't the smartest.

During a celebration of National Ally Week, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners.

The cards asked signers to be "an ally" and to pledge to "not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer schools efforts."

The school has acknowledged that the exercise was not appropriate for kindergartners.

This story was a gift to those who support Proposition 8, whose opponents claim that Prop 8 will have no impact on schools. Then again, perhaps it won't:

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, the group representing Voelker (a parent), said parents at the Faith Ringgold School weren't notified of what was going to take place in the classroom.

He said that teaching students as young as pre-school about gay, lesbian and transgender issues is common in California, but that there are "all kinds of material the average parent could find highly objectionable or potentially harmful" to their children. (boldface mine--Darren)

I'm not convinced that there's anything that kindergartners need to learn about homosexuals/homosexuality at school. Even if there were, asking 5-year-olds to sign a pledge strikes me as excessive in all but a very few circumstances.

Now let's leave the issue of kindergarten and move to the cards themselves. I myself am not a big fan of these pledge cards. Yes, I know they're put out by GLSEN, so they're going to be focused on homosexuals, but I'd have much less an issue with them if they discussed discrimination and harassment in general. Tolerance, live-and-let-live, intervening or seeking help when someone is being harassed or threatened--those apply to everyone, not just to homosexuals. Prejudice comes in many forms.


Ellen K said...

There's a term for this: Indoctrination. Imagine if some equally ridiculous teacher had kids signing cards pledging their lives to Jesus, or pledging to support the KKK or any of a number of politically charged issues. It would be wrong and is wrong all the way around. And people wonder why so many parents distrust their public education system. I hope they fire that teacher. Totally age inappropriate and this smacks of political campaigning in the classroom.

Jane said...

Let's just say the cards were asking the kids to pledge to something we could all agree on-such as brushing your teeth...still not appropriate for the cognitive age of the students. Unfortunately, teachers like this give teachers and public schools a bad name. Tolerance for all should be taught-even in preschool. But, at that age it's about not pushing, taking turns, sharing and using manners.

Donalbain said...

While I agree that pledging is a stupid thing for young kids, (they simply dont understand the concept), the use of homophobic language IS something that needs to be addressed. I hear kids of 5 and 6 using the term "gay" as an insult, and to me that is simply not acceptable and needs to be addressed by the teachers.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Or we could also just say that it was an adult who, unsatisfied to "merely" teach, decided to make the world a better place by elevating kindergarten kids to their own lofty plane of tolerance, coincidentally deriving the cheap thrill of phony accomplishment from the pretense that their action had any worthwhile result.