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Acceptance-related activities in local high schools?

Original post made by Tom Cushing, Danville, on Oct 2, 2010

My daughters attended MV and SRV high schools, and one of many reasons I'm proud of them is that both were involved with student activities to promote acceptance and support for gay and lesbian students.

With media attention focused on the Clementi suicide at Rutgers, I wonder what is the current state of school policy and student activities in that regard in our local high schools? I am hopeful that all kinds of "tolerance"-related outlets will be available for a whole range of differences -- at least until that hoped-for, happy day when they're no longer needed.

I'm aware that this topic on an anonymous board may bring out the lifestylers and gay-agenda fearmongers, so I will use my given name, and hope other responders will follow suit. One thing I know is that tragedies like young Mr. Clementi's leap Can happen here, and shouldn't.

So, what's going on hereabouts? Thanks for information.

Comments (31)

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Danville
on Oct 2, 2010 at 10:05 am

Rutgers University was certainly negligent in their dormitory room assignment, and therefore also partially responsible for the homosexual student's suicide. Why was a known homosexual assigned to live in a young man's college dormitory room in the first place? A young college girl would never be assigned nor asked to share a dormitory room with a young college man. Individuals with different sexual desires should never be housed together for obvious reason. Extremely poor judgment was utilized on the part of Rutgers. Not all young college men are fully equipped to deal with the embarrassment and social stigma of having a known homosexual assigned to live with them in the close quarters of a college environment.

Rutgers should certainly revisit their flawed policy of mixing individuals with different sexual orientation/desires together in the same dormitory room. There are girl bathrooms and boys bathrooms for a reason, the same is to be said for girl dorm rooms and boy dorm rooms.

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Oct 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm

If we are to waste precious school time, money, and resources with a program "supporting" gay rights, than we will also have to waste precious school time, money, and resources in "supporting" every other group that demands equal time, such as religious, political, and racial groups. How about just one program that supports "the golden rule", to treat everyone with respect the way you would want to be treated. We need to let the schools get back to teaching basic subjects, like math, science, english, and history, and stop giving in to every special interest group demanding a special program for their group. "The golden rule" program should be sufficient to address the need for students to be respectful to everyone, and cause less controversy in having it appear that the schools are promoting any special life style.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm

@"American:" While a school policy is not a course that diverts class time from other subjects, and most student activities are also conducted outside of class time, and providing support to a kid in-need is not the same as "supporting gay rights," I do think the Golden Rule is an excellent place to start.

Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Oct 2, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Tom Cushing: I agree with you that what happened to the student at Rutgers is horrible, and I hope the roomate who secretly taped the incident and put it on the internet is criminally charged with invasion of privacy, I do have concerns with mandatory school programs during school hours that "support" gay rights. If you are simply talking about an after school program for people who support a particular cause, I have no problem with that. I would also support a short program during school hours that simply teaches the golden rule of treating all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual preferance, etc the way you would want to be treated. However, if our district implemented a program that some liberal districts implemented,with mandatory teaching during school hours of a program that supports gay rights, such as the book of "my two dads", I think many parents, including myself, would pull our children out of the district and send them to private schools.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 4, 2010 at 7:17 am

What I am most seeking is information about what is, in fact, happening in the schools to set the limits of acceptable behavior (policy), and give students a chance to organize and advocate, consistent with those policies.

I'm not trying to pick a fight here, but it seems to me that once someone advocates for the Golden Rule, then the teaching examples of the Rule's application in real life circumstances should be relevant.

These recent well-publicized suicides, and the many, many others that preceded them before this issue got on the media radar, suggest such relevance -- not exclusive relevance, but relevance nonetheless -- together with many other immutable characteristics that traditionally form the bases for intolerant, unacceptable behaviors.

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Danville
on Oct 5, 2010 at 6:39 am


Add another high school acceptance-related activity to your list. Last week seven Alhambra HS freshman football players hazed a teammate, [portion removed] The boy was taped up around the legs, [portion removed] The boys involved were all suspended, [portion removed]

It seems that despite the homosexual acceptance training at schools, students are still turned off by certain types of people.

Can we actually change or alter human nature?

Posted by becky
a resident of Danville
on Oct 5, 2010 at 7:56 am

I personally find bullying behavior unacceptable in any fashion. I don't care if the person is "different" (race/looks/sexual orientation, whatever) they are still human. It is NEVER okay to hurt someone for the amusement or ego stroking of someone else. We need a zero tolerance policy...and that means that PARENTS have to step up as well. If we have people thinking that hurting someone else is okay because we don't like them, kids pick up on that and behave accordingly. Perhaps we should simply punish the perpetrators so heavily that it simply isn't worth their time to be mean. I don't think there is much use in appealing to someone's better nature if they do not have one.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

The SRV Times reported that hazing incident this morning, but declined to include much about its motivation.

I agree with CS and becky that there may be something intolerant in "human nature." I also think, though, that that's a Starting Point, rather than an endpoint. Values and ethics may/may not be inherent in the same way, but they can be -- and are -- developed over time and training (and at every age, methinks).

Policies against bullying may run afoul of some folks' "can't legislate morality" dictum -- but I think there's ample evidence in cognitive dissonance research that that's just not true (witness the accelerated pace, if incomplete results, of racial harmonization since passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, fer instance).

I'd also go so far as to suggest that the schools should play a role in enforcing policy and training ethics. The 3Rs are important, but I have lived to a pretty ripe age without Ever having to calculate the area under the curve, or use a cosign [sic] for anything other than my kids' checks.

There. Maybe that'll get the conversation going.

Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 6, 2010 at 6:28 am

The social pressure, back-stabbing, and general "mean-ness" my daughter experienced in grammar school lead to her request to attend The Athenian School. A required course for new kids there is called "Life Skills". It extols the virtues kindness and tolerance. It's refreshing to see how those kids interact with each other and he respect that they give to each other. Equally refreshing is that the school is intolerant of "mean kids" behavior. I hear the stories of social pressure and "mean kids" behavior at... especially Monte Vista... and am thrilled to have been able to provide my child a truly first class middle school and high school experience away from the public system.

Posted by Danville Mom
a resident of Danville
on Oct 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

Where I think it's great that schools have different clubs to support different interests as well as sexual preference; where both my husband are advocates for support is at home.

Teaching your children respect and "the golden rule" starts at home as does most everything else. We as parents set the standard for our children and "do as I say, not as I do" just doesn't cut it.

Raising ethical, accepting and appreciative children is our job, not the schools.
(we have two children; one at Los Cerros and the other at Monte Vista).

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 7, 2010 at 8:11 am

It occurred to me that this entry has received a lot of page views, some of which may be from kids-at-risk or their loved ones. So I thought I'd post a link to the "It Gets Better Project" website, containing testimonials from folks for whom it did.

It Gets Better Project: Web Link

In a recent column, Dan Savage also posted a link to a related resource site: the Make It Better Project: Web Link

Posted by Sally
a resident of Danville
on Oct 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

While each and every student must be treated fairly and with integrity, I really do not believe it is the public school's duty to teach anything about this subject. It is a moral issue and should be taught in the home and at the house of worship of your choice.

Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Oct 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Thanks Tom - great idea to post those wonderful resources.

Sally, we need schools to understand the need for tolerance and acceptance, and to support these fundamental truths that are (hopefully) being taught in the home. Like Tom, my kids went to both MVHS and SRVHS and were involved in the Gay Straight Alliance at their schools and continue to stand for the rights of all. I could not be more proud. I believe that some of their classmates were guided in to better understanding these issues in the school settings as their home environment was not one of tolerance. I think if schools can be a resource in this way, I would wholeheartedly support that.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 11, 2010 at 10:32 am

Here are a few further links that may humanize the issues:

Suicides Prompt rethinking of anti-bullying policies/controversy: Web Link

More on the It Gets Better website: Web Link

Pitts on on incivility in general: Web Link

Comment on Facebook, regarding difficulty within the local schools (as well as apples, their trees and the distance between -- reprinted with permission):

Sierra Cushing: At SRVHS we did not have much teacher support for the acceptance issue. My friend started the gay straight alliance and was met with so much resistance that it took over a year and a name change to get it going when it should have taken a month or so. That was in the early 2000's. Several teachers also refused to post signs that the abuse/harassment would not be tolerated. We need to get teachers AND parents involved in tolerance.

Posted by Sally N.
a resident of Danville
on Oct 11, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Good stuff here, Tom. Thank you.

Posted by Claudia
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 13, 2010 at 9:01 am

I think the article by Mr Pitts is spot on. What if Mr Clementi were not gay but still videoed with a woman? Does that make it any less cruel? I don't think so. The point is not that these people are gay or straight. The point is they were not treated as human beings. That is the bigger issue. I think the notion that it's "human nature" isn't really valid. We have a moral compass and you can't tell me bullies don't know what they are doing is wrong. They may be acting out personal problems but there's little doubt that on some level this young man's roomates knew it was a wrong and hurtful act. Objectifying people seems to be getting easier and easier. It's "just a YouTube" video? Not when it ruins a life.

Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I would not support spending more time and money on this subject; only because (as mentioned above) developing character starts and ends in the home.

Parents need to be good roles ALL OF THE TIME. I do believe that most, if not all, of the SRVUSD schools have programs to teach children to treat others with respect. Our schools need to focus on educating not changing family values.

Personally, I teach my children that certain life styles are not right for our family, but to be kind and loving to all of God’s creations.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2010 at 9:45 am

Hi Marie:

You seem to have chosen the heterosexual lifestyle for yourself and your family. If your own choice wasn’t conscious, can you conceive of another of God’s creatures for whom that choice was equally unconscious, and different from yours? And what if that child of God is also your child? Can you imagine the depth of turmoil and despair in that child who is trained that s/he “isn’t right for her family?”

I think that kid may be the kind of person who will be fortunate if s/he later learns that character development does not have to “end in the home.” That’s exactly the kind of kid for whom support from outside the confines of family philosophy may spell the difference between a life of self-love or -loathing -- or even life or death. To the extent that policy support is provided to kids who are the object of adolescent bullying, I think that support must be extended to include sexual orientation, and be enforced.

I certainly agree with you about kindness and loving all God’s creatures, but I don’t think you can go partway down that road. I think that means accepting every inherent characteristic of that other creation. Dismissing homosexuality as a “lifestyle” is a comforting fallacy, I believe, that allows well-meaning folks to take refuge in the “hate the sin/love the sinner” mantra.

But what if homosexuality is neither a sin – nor a choice?

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm

We all know in our heart of hearts as rational thinking human beings that homosexuality is indeed a lifestyle choice that represents a degradation of moral decency. However, although we understand the act of homosexuality to be completely repulsive and sickening, we as respecting human beings should extend, not acceptance, but compassion to these individuals by not teasing or harassing homosexuals.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 16, 2010 at 6:36 am

No, we don't -- but thanks for sharing the retrograde view, CS.

Clearly, not everyone who seeks comfort in the 'lifestyle' artifice is 'well-meaning.'

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I've been poking around the interwebs and they have provided some further resources:

Article from San Diego on progress apparently being made there: Web Link

State Department of Education pamphlet "Bullying at School:" Web Link

Fact Sheet on Student Civil Rights Act (SB777) eff. 1/1/2008, from its sponsor: Web Link

Sample anti-bullying policy from St Dept of Education: Web Link

Apropos of the latter, does anyone know whether SRVUSD has adopted such a policy? Thanks for any information.

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Danville
on Oct 23, 2010 at 9:44 am

Homnosexuality is wrong, and promoting homosexuality is wrong.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

In my view, CN, homosexuality is neither right nor wrong, it just "is" -- very much like heterosexuality just "is." As such, it needs no promotion. What it still does need, obviously, is for folks who aren't gay to either accept the difference, or at least mind their own business.

In your earlier post, you focused on the plumbing and the 'yuck' factor you seem to associate with homosex. Do you remember the movie Summer of '42? You remind me of the adolescent who found a marital manual and exclaimed: "MY parents never did THAT!" If that's you, then maybe there's hope that "it'll get better" for you, too. If not, then please see the end of paragraph one.

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Danville
on Oct 23, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Homosexuality has several natural evolutionary signals that communicate to the human that one should refrain. The odor of solid waste being just one, HIV/AIDS another. Promoting unsafe sexual behavior in schools, such as homosexuality, is not healthy, nor should it be accepted.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 24, 2010 at 8:49 am

Okay, CN -- where to start? I guess, first and foremost, I am grateful that sexual activity need not be limited to "evolutionary" purposes and processes.

Second, and as delicately as I can, you are aware (aren't you?) that, by the numbers, heterosexuals "commit" many more anti-evolutionary sexual acts than their gay counterparts (those acts defined as the ones not involving much procreative potential)? Human beings have always been remarkably resourceful in that regard, it seems -- they need very little promotion to be themselves, and discouragement just doesn't work, ever.

Third, I guess we can agree that safe sex is a good thing. Beers all around!

But fourth, safe sex needn't be achieved by forcing a significant minority of the adult population into closets to serve the prejudices and emotional sensibilities of some shrinking portion of the sexual majority. Indeed, if it's safety you're seeking, then it ought to be promoted to everyone's benefit.

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Danville
on Oct 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

An evolutionary biological signal communicates or warns humans to refrain from certain behavior or action. If homosexuality was a desired natural behavior from a homosapien evolutionary standpoint, solid waste or feces would attract our olfactory receptors.

For conversation sake, the word homosapien derives from Latin "homo" for earth, ground, or soil, as in the word humus. Perhaps even carrying an associated biblical connotation as the name Adam in Hebrew refers to "red clay" or "red earth" to which Adam was supposedly born from God.

Secondly, Latin "sapien" is related to several English words that refer to wisdom (sage), discernment (sapient), and taste (savor).

Supposedly early man evolved and developed through their ability to discern (make self-beneficial and wise decisions) through their taste and smell receptors, which is how we obtained our name or label, homosapien.

Therefore, if homosexuality was a desired natural behavior from a homosapien evolutionary standpoint, solid waste or feces would attract our olfactory receptors, not repulse our senses.

I would hope that you would at least consider respecting the opinion and viewpoint of people that do not agree with the homosexual adgenda in our schools, community, and society.

Perhaps, by chance, our viewpoint is just a valid as the homosexual's.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 25, 2010 at 9:51 am

I'm sorry, CN, I've tried, but you're asking me to step way out on a flimsy limb to justify social discrimination against a whole group of people because, what -- one item on everyone's available sexual menu is messy? That is a particularly nasty brand of sophistry that deserves no dignity whatsoever.

One could as "scientifically" ask why evolution placed nerve cells in that neck o' the woods -- recall Mark Twain's quip about over-rated and under-rated pleasures? I don't happen to agree, but it can be found here: Web Link I think he may have been doing it wrong, but I digress.

Anyway, to use your brand of pseudo-science to justify an animus against gays is self-deceiving, at the very best. It deserves no "respect." If that's the best you can do, then I completely understand your use of a pseudonym on this board.


In other news, a week ago I wrote to Terry Koehne, Community Relations officer of SRVUSD, to ask that he come here and clarify the Actual state of District policy as regards the Actual Subject of this thread. He has not done so yet.

If anyone else wants to inquire, here is his District email:

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Danville
on Oct 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for making your unyielding position on homosexuality in schools public, it is either your way or the highway! End of discussion.

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Oct 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

In my view, not all ideas are created equal, but all people are.

Here's an interesting excerpt on the general subject, from Margaret Talbot, in this week's New Yorker:

"....But the more that acceptance wins—and it is winning—the more angry obstructionism we’ll see from people who still can’t accept it. Clearly, tolerance has hit a few snags, some more serious than others. According to some data, hate crimes targeting gays have increased in the past two years. Certain opponents of same-sex marriage feel emboldened to unleash harsh rhetoric. On October 3rd,

Boyd K. Packer, who, at eighty-six, is the second-highest leader in the Mormon Church, proclaimed, “Some suppose that they were born preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural.” (Beware the hatred-licensing power of words like “impure” and “unnatural.”)...."

Here's the full article: Web Link

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:24 am

Just a note to update this conversation, concerning its original purpose:

Last evening, SRVUSD Board of Education conducted its first reading of proposed policies on Positive School Climate and Non-discrimination/Harassment/Anti-bullying. They accepted comments from the community and will further refine these documents for later vote. It's a good start, in my view.

Deniers pls note: "positive school climate" is unrelated to global warming. ;-)

The District website is here: Web Link

Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:20 am

Last evening, the SRVUSD Board adopted anti-bullying policies, and will apparently oversee their implementation in ways that will ensure that they does not become unused, feel-good artifacts.

I want to express appreciation for this very important step, taking a stand that can enrich the lives of all District students.

Implementation is the next, equally critical step in the process of giving life to live-and-let-live.

As above, the District website is here: Web Link

The titles of the new policies are as follows:
Policy 5137: Positive School Climate
Policy 5145.3: Student Nondiscrimination /Harassment /Antibullying

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