Parents Threaten 'Walk Out' Over Middle School's LGBT 'Acceptance Week'
A number of parents in a suburb of San Francisco are speaking out against a planned LGBT "acceptance week" designed to teach middle school students about the LGBT community.
Parents at Windmere Ranch Middle School in San Ramon, California, have launched an online petition against the school's LGBT acceptance week, which is scheduled to begin Monday, April 11.
If the parents' listed demands are not met by the school, they are threatening to initiate a "walk out."
The group of parents suggest that the school's acceptance week denotes a special public effort focused solely on the LGBT community, which they argue is discriminatory.
"Inequalities in such efforts are evident when comparing the time, resources and intensity devoted to lessons, activities, and promotional fanfare dedicated to the acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender group while ignoring acceptance and promotion of values represented in other diverse groups within our community," the petition states.
The petition adds that the parents "are not against the LGBTQ" but there are a number of concerns with the acceptance week that have not been addressed.
The petition further explains that the parents want to be assured that the lessons being taught during LGBT acceptance week will not include "condemnation for differing religious values or practices."
The parents fear that the school will use LGBT acceptance week as an outlet to indoctrinate their children.
"We are highly concerned about the extended promotion of LGBTQ by the acceptance week curriculum, which appears to indoctrinate our children, undermine parental guidance and humiliate those with religious, cultural and personal convictions not in agreement or acceptance with the promotional campaign," the petition states. "Again, we are not against LGBTQ, but demand respect and equality for all segments of our community by WRMS."
The parents would also like to see the instruction focus on acceptance for all races, cultures, social statuses, ethnic minorities and and religious beliefs.
So far, 650 supporters have signed the petition.
The lessons for the school's second annual LGBT week were set up by a student leadership group. A local NBC News station reports that the acceptance week leads up to the National Day of Silence on April 15, which is organized to raise awareness of "the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination."
"There is a time for everything in life. I don't think middle school is the right time to expose kids to all this stuff," a parent named Saket Goyal posted in a comment on the petition page. "I think school can pick more broader social aspects to expose to kids."
The NBC station also reports that in response to the backlash, the students have been given the opportunity to opt out of the LGBT lessons.
Lesson materials were revised by the principal and sent to parents for review.
A number of parents who commented on the petition claim one video that shows kissing is not appropriate for children of that age.
"I do not feel the video is not age appropriate," a parent named Lorie Drysdale wrote. "My daughter who attends WRMS isn't even comfortable watching her parents kiss so she's definitely not going to be comfortable with this video."
Other parents, however, don't see any harm in teaching middle school students about the norms of the LGBT community.
"Things have changed a lot and this is the time they need to learn about it," parent Arumugam Appaeurai told NBC News. "There's no way. It cannot be a secret anymore."
According to NBC News, about 30 people attended a meeting with the San Ramon Unified School District's superintendent last Friday to voice their concerns about the instruction and the videos. The school's principal has since agreed to cut out images and kissing and intimacy from the videos and displays.