A controversial bill that bans bias against homosexuals, transgenders, and bisexuals in public schools was passed on Thursday by the California Senate, unleashing a wave of concern through those opposed to normalizing homosexuality.
SB 777 went through by a 23-13 vote, and would prohibit all classes, textbooks, and teachers from any instruction that "reflects or promotes bias against" those perceived with gender issues. All instructional materials and school activities would then have to positively portray all of these sexually alternative lifestyles, something many refuse to support.
Children starting from kindergarten would learn about the practices, as a result, and would be forced to accept them as socially acceptable, pro-family conservatives argue.
"SB 777 is designed to transform our public schools into institutions that disregard all notions of the traditional family unit," said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), in a statement. "This reverse discrimination is an outright attack on the religious and moral beliefs of California citizens."
Voting for the bill went strictly along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, passing a slim margin of three votes. No Republican senator made an address to oppose the legislation.
SB 777 is much like a previous bill that was passed in the last session of the California legislature, SB 1437, but was subsequently vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"Parents are angry at the Democrats for passing this school sexual indoctrination bill and frustrated that Republicans did little to fight it," explained Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), a California-based pro-family organization, in a statement. "We call on Arnold Schwarzenegger to pledge that he will respect parents, protect children, and veto this bad bill, just like he did last year."
As part of the bill, which was authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl, a lesbian, the language also redefined what the word "gender" means, stating that "gender" means "sex" but that a person's gender identity and related appearance can constitute "sex" despite the person's assigned "sex" at birth. SB 777 also erased the current definition of "sex" from the education code, which originally defined it as the biological condition of being male or female.
Several parents, Christians and non-Christians, have voiced their concern over schools regulating what their children should think is acceptable. They feel their children should not be forced to support homosexuality and other non-traditional gender lifestyles as being normal and healthy.
"The notion of forcing children to support controversial sexual lifestyles is shocking and appalling to millions of fathers and mothers," added Thomasson. "Parents don't want their children taught to become homosexual or bisexual or to wonder whether they need a sex-change operation. SB 777 will shatter the academic purpose of education by turning every government school into a sexual indoctrination center."
Under the bill, school districts must comply with the new standards or else they will be regulated by the California Department of Education. In addition, teachers do not need parental permission to teach about the subjects to their students.
According to CRI, the Los Angeles Unified School District has already implemented the policies in this bill.
"In that district, boys who perceive themselves as girls may enter the girls' locker room and restroom," described Meredith Turney, legislative liaison for CRI, in a statement. "Teachers and school officials are required to hide the gender identity of a transgender student if the parents are unaware of what's taking place at school. This astonishing policy will be expanded to every school in the state if SB 777 becomes law."
Students up to the twelfth grade would be affected by the bill.