Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Thursday, September 7, 2006
The bill vetoed on Wednesday, SB 1437, said California public schools may neither teach nor sponsor any activity that "reflects adversely" on anyone because of their sexual orientation.
But according to the Campaign for Children and Families, a conservative advocacy group that lobbied against the bill, SB 1437 would have altered K-12 public education textbooks, instructional materials, and school-sponsored activities "to positively reference transsexuality, transvestitism, bisexuality, and homosexuality, including homosexual 'marriage.'"
In vetoing the bill, Gov. Schwarzenegger noted that state law already prevents discrimination. "I am vetoing this bill because the vagueness of the term 'reflects adversely' would not strengthen this important area of legal protection from bias based on sexual orientation," he said in his veto message.
The bill's lesbian author, Democratic state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, said she was "extremely disappointed that the governor chose to respond to a small, shrill group of right-wing extremists rather than a fair-minded majority of Californians who support this reasonable measure."
Kuehl said the bill would have "modestly expanded existing statutes to bring us one step closer to the goal of safe schools for all children." She said schools are still hostile to LGBT students, and SB 1437 would have given them "equal protection."
Equality California (EQCA), a homosexual advocacy group that led the push to pass what it calls the "Bias-Free Curriculum Act," described the bill as a simple nondiscrimination measure.
"Yet again, this governor has shown that he will play politics with our lives when a few extremists yell loud enough," said Geoff Kors, EQCA's executive director.
"The governor's veto message states that the underlying laws the bill amends are too vague. Such reasoning is completely nonsensical. The truth remains that the governor vetoed adding LGBT people to an existing law protecting every other group but us."
But conservative activists -- whose efforts to kill the bill included a rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday -- expressed relief that their efforts paid off.
"We're pleased the governor kept his word and vetoed this dangerous legislation. If passed, it would have had grave implications for children and families -- not just in California, but across the country -- by forcing all public school teachers to present a one-sided message about homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender issues to students as young as 5," said Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family Action senior vice president of government and public policy .
"Thanks are due to the many thousands of pro-family Californians who called and e-mailed Gov. Schwarzenegger, urging him to stop this bill in its tracks. We now ask those same men and women to keep telling the governor to do what's right for their state by vetoing two other anti-family bills when they reach his desk."
One down, two to go
The Campaign for California Families said it's good that Gov. Schwarzenegger has vetoed SB 1437 -- but it also says the governor's job isn't finished.
Two more "sexual indoctrination" bills -- AB 606 and AB 1056 -- await action, said CCF President Randy Thomasson. "The governor needs to veto all three school indoctrination bills. Parents and grandparents want a consistent governor, not a flip-flopping governor," he added.
Thomasson said the worst of the two remaining bills is AB 606, which would require the California superintendent of public instruction to withhold state funds from any school district that does not adopt a "model policy" prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Critics say the bill would force schools to promote transsexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality on school campuses.
"It gives the Superintendent of Public Instruction the ability to withhold money from schools that are not implementing policies that are indoctrinating our children. They are using our own tax dollars against us. That is our money," Thomasson said.
AB 1056, the third bill awaiting action by the governor, would allocate special funds for a Tolerance Ecuaton Pilot Program to teach kids about "tolerance and intergroup relations," including "actual or perceived gender."
Gov. Schwarzenegger has not indicated whether he plans to veto the two remaining bills.
See Earlier Stories:
California Assembly Sends 'Jill and Jill Up the Hill,' Conservatives (22 Aug. 2006)
Conservatives Launch Final Assault on 'Gay Education' Bill (17 Aug. 2006)
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