The mandatory program, officially titled "LGBT Lesson #9," was approved May 26 by the Alameda County Board of Education by a vote of 3-2. Students from kindergarten through fifth grade will learn about "tolerance" for the homosexual lifestyle beginning next year.
The curriculum is in addition to the school's current anti-bullying program and is estimated to cost $8,000 for curriculum and training.
Parents will not be given an opportunity to opt-out of lessons that go against their religious beliefs. Some parents are threatening to sue the school board and mount a recall. Opponents presented a petition with 468 signatures from people who don't want the homosexual lessons in the curriculum.
At the board meeting, parent Julie Kim said, "The topics covered in this curriculum for all the grades should be left up to the parent to discuss with their children."
The district's legal counsel recommended against giving parents an opportunity to opt out of the lessons, claiming only health or sex education topics require opt-out provisions:
The school district claims it will re-assess the curriculum, but only after it has been in place for a full year.
According to the Island of Alameda, trustee Tracy Jensen addressed a crowd at City Hall following the vote.
"We are not telling anyone what to think," Jensen said. "We are letting children know that gay people exist and they deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of whether or not you believe that homosexuality is acceptable."
But Capitol Resource Institute's Karen England explored the curriculum and released a statement condemning the program before the board's vote.
"This curriculum ignores the fact that every child has a mom and a dad, to redefine ideas like 'family.' School absolutely should be a safe place, but this isn't just about safety. Students have to embrace highly controversial social values or risk being labeled as bigots," she warned. "Five year old kids aren't ready to think on their own about sexuality – and their families' values will be dismissed. That's not an education in critical thinking. It's social activism."
In first grade, students will read "Who is in a Family?" By Robert Skutch. It explores different types of families. One page states, " … Robin's family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad's partner, Henry, and Robin's cat, Sassy."
Teachers are told to reflect and "reinforce to students that in our school and our community there are many different types of families that provide love and care to each other. Remind the students that all family structures are equally important."
Second grade students will read about two homosexual penguins that raise a young chick in the book "And Tango Makes Three" by J. Richardson and P. Parnell.
The two male penguins, Roy and Silo, are described as being "a little bit different."
"They didn't spend much time with the girl penguins, and the girl penguins didn't spend much time with them," the text states.
When the male penguins nurture an egg, it soon hatches. "We'll call her Tango," it states, "because it takes two to make a Tango."
The book declares, "Tango was the very first penguin in the zoo to have two daddies."
In the third grade, students will watch a film called "That's a Family," featuring some homosexual couples in addition to traditional families.
According to the lesson plan, it aims to "assist students in developing sensitivity to gay and lesbian family structures" and teach "respect and tolerance for every type of family."
Fourth graders will be required to read an essay titled, "My School is Accepting – but Things Could be Better" by Robert, an 11-year-old who has two lesbian mothers.
They are introduced to terms such as "ally," "gay," "lesbian" and "LGBT."
Teachers are instructed to ask, "How do you think Robert feels when he hears people say things like, 'this is gay' or 'You're so gay'?"
By fifth grade, students learn to "identify stereotypes about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." They are told that "LGBT people have made important contributions within the United States and beyond."
Teachers are asked to write the acronym LGBT and ask students the meaning of each letter. Students discuss why stereotypes are "incorrect and hurtful" to LGBT people and people with LGBT family members.
The children are provided with a list of famous LGBT people, including novelist James Baldwin, singer Elton John, comedian Ellen Degeneres, pop singer Christina Aguilera, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, poet Walt Whitman, singer Lance Bass, figure skater Rudy Galindo, homosexual politician Harvey Milk, Army veteran Jose Zuniga and basketball player Sheryl Swoopes.