LOS ANGELES - As one group attempts to use California public schools as laboratories to assist children in "coming out" with their nontraditional sexual orientation, another is urging parents to come out from these schools and educate their children with their values at home or in private schools.
Last Sunday, a group called "Exodus Mandate" began placing literature in scores of Southern California church lobbies, urging parents to take charge of their children's education and oppose attempts by activists and politicians to shape the worldview of young people, a worldview that runs counter to what many taxpaying parents believe and teach in their homes and places of worship.
The final straw for some was the decision last fall by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign SB 777 - a bill opponents say will have a long and significant effect not only on California public schools, but also on public schools everywhere. That's because California is one of the largest purchasers of school textbooks and publishers tend to shape content to reflect the wishes of the state that buys the most books.
SB 777, or the California Student Civil Rights Act, requires "nondiscrimination" against sexual orientation, as well as other characteristics. Opponents take that to mean favorable teaching about homosexuality, bisexuality, gender identity and any and every other form of sexual expression for which there is an advocate.
Dr. Ron Gleason, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Yorba Linda, Calif., is leading the exodus movement in Southern California. In a telephone interview, Gleason acknowledges it is difficult work because he says there is virtually no leadership at the pastoral level with the "big name Christian celebrity" pastors largely remaining silent. "They prefer to build their empires rather than step out and lead," he says. Gleason says 96 percent of his congregation have their children in private schools or educate them at home.
Gleason says SB 777 has resulted in California schools not being allowed to use the words "mommy" and "daddy" anymore. "Children will be taught that sexual orientation and gender are merely a matter of personal choice," says Gleason, "and they will be taught to find what is 'right' for them."
The Website for Gleason's group argues SB 777 essentially makes it lawful for public schools to "indoctrinate" children as young as pre-kindergarten to accept as normal and morally acceptable homosexuality and "other sexually deviant lifestyles." In addition, says the group, the legislation represents a "complete reversal of 2,000 years of Christian moral teaching on human sexuality, family, and marriage."