Monday, June 11, 2007

School talk about gays, lesbians riles some parents

Posted at The Olympian.

Anti-bullying assemblies that addressed gay and lesbian issues Wednesday at Washington Middle School have angered some parents.

The parents say they should have received better notification that an assembly about a controversial topic was coming up. And some say that if they had known about the assembly, they would have had their child excused from attending.

“They’re undermining parents, and they’re deciding what morals to teach our children,” said Stewart Wood, whose daughter is a Washington eighth-grader. “The school was making a decision to give certain information to sway students a certain way without consulting the parents.”

Olympia School District Superintendent Bill Lahmann said school officials probably could have done more to notify parents beyond announcing the event in a recent newsletter and should do so in the future. However, Olympia schools aren’t going to shy away from teaching students about harassment and bullying issues, he said.

“All kids deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully,” Lahmann said.

“It doesn’t matter what a student’s beliefs are or anything else; harassment is not tolerated.”

Granted, harassment is not to be tolerated. I assume that there are soon going to be anti-bullying assemblies for students with height issues, and speech issues, and hair issues, and weight issues, and faith issues, and... well, you get my point. The issue is not really with harassment, it's not really with tolerance, it's with approval and acceptance of a lifestyle that many parents have taught their children is sinful. It is not the only behavior that is taught as sinful, but it is one that is generating a great deal of attention.

Although speakers asked that personal stories shared during the assembly remain confidential, Leach said that message wasn’t intended to prevent students from talking about the assembly with their families.

“We just wanted to make sure kids out in the classrooms weren’t teasing each other about things they’d heard,” she said.

Some parents said they worried that the confidentiality message might have been confusing to students.

“This is a public school,” Stewart Wood said. “Nothing is confidential that happens in the classroom.”

Mixed messages. Also becoming a common thread in these kinds of issues.

Talk to your children and let them know what is going on. If you don't, someone else will. These are very real issues in the public school system today. There is an agenda that is aggressively being pushed, and if you don't respond to it, you will be responsible for the impact that it has on your child.

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