Thursday, May 21, 2009

Harvey History

30 years ago, the White Night riots inflamed San Francisco
Just as today's LGBT community awaits on pins and needles for a court decision on whether voters had the right to rescind marriage rights to same-sex couples through the ballot box, gay residents of San Francisco 30 years ago today (Thursday, May 21) were also anxious to learn about the outcome of another courthouse drama.

And 30 years later, cement-headed schools administrators still want Harvey deleted from history:

School curbs girl's report on gay rights activist Milk

The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego is threatening to sue Ramona school officials after they told a sixth-grader she couldn't present a report on slain gay rights advocate Harvey Milk to fellow students unless their parents signed permission slips.

District officials told Natalie Jones and her parents that a report on Milk fell under the school board's life and sex education policy, which requires parental consent before any instruction on the topics of reproduction and human sexuality.

David Blair-Loy, the ACLU's legal director, said in a letter to district officials yesterday that they violated Natalie's free speech rights.

Natalie, 12, is a student at Mount Woodson Elementary School and did the report last month as part of an independent research project class at the school. Students in the class are required to do PowerPoint projects on a subject of their choosing.

Natalie picked Milk, who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States when he was elected in 1977 to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. After serving 11 months, Milk was assassinated in a City Hall shooting in November 1978 by Dan White, who had resigned as a supervisor but wanted his job back. White also killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in the rampage.

The slain supervisor's life was the subject last year of the Academy Award-winning film “Milk,” starring Sean Penn.

The day before Natalie was to present the report in April, she was told by Principal Theresa Grace that she would not be allowed to show her project in class the way other students had done.

Blair-Loy, in his letter to the school district, said the girl was told the subject was “sensitive.” School officials later told the girl's mother, Bonnie Jones, that the presentation only could be shown to students whose parents had signed a permission slip in advance ...

Natalie gave the presentation to about half the class, Blair-Loy said. The ACLU wants the district to apologize to Natalie, send letters “reflecting such apology” to parents who received the school district permission request, let Natalie give the presentation to the whole class and clarify that the board policy applies only to course content for sex-education instruction. The group also wants the district to say situations like this won't happen again.

“We think the school district singled out and discriminated against Natalie's speech because of its content,” Blair-Loy said. “This is not sex education. This is a presentation about Harvey Milk, a historical figure who happened to be gay.”

Bonnie Jones said she was upset and did not understand the district's objection.

“If you look at her presentation, I don't see anything that is wrong with it,” Jones said.

And from this article in the Sacramento Bee:
Bonnie Jones said her daughter was inspired to choose Milk as the subject of her research report after seeing the movie "Milk," which earned Academy Awards for actor Sean Penn and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

"First my daughter got called into the principal's office as if she were in some kind of trouble, and then they treated her presentation like it was something icky," Jones said in a statement.

"Harvey Milk was an elected official in this state and an important person in history," Jones added. "To say my daughter's presentation is sex education because Harvey Milk happened to be gay is completely wrong."

No comments: