Temecula, a city in southern California, has recently rejected a social studies curriculum that covers gay rights after some board members complained that there wasn’t enough parental involvement and made remarks criticising gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. Parents in Temecula are protesting this decision.
A social studies curriculum for grades one through five was rejected by the Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Education by a vote of 3-2 on May 16 during a board meeting during which the remarks were made. A textbook used in the social studies curriculum discusses homosexual rights and references Milk’s work.
“I find the inclusion of sexually based topics and the glorification of a known pedophile who happened to be an advocate for gay rights to 10-year-olds morally reprehensible and inappropriate,” board member Danny Gonzalez said during the meeting. He later clarified he was referring to Milk.
In 1977, Milk, a well-known leader for gay rights, is thought to have been the first openly gay politician to be chosen for public office in California. Milk collaborated with Mayor George Moscone on legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation while he was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Later, in 1978, the sole board member who voted against the law killed both men. President Barack Obama bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Milk in 2013.
However, a brief biography of Milk is included in an additional teaching resource for teachers that describes his lifestyle and his work for gay rights in California, according to Anna Tapley, the school district’s director of curriculum and instruction, who spoke at the May 16 meeting. The social studies curriculum, which was recommended by staff and adopted by the State Board of Education, does not actually include Milk directly.
Board president Dr. Joseph Komrosky responded: “My question is why even mention a pedophile? Why even mention that? What has that got to do with our curriculum in schools? That’s a form of activism.”
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In “The Mayor of Castro Street,” a biography of Milk written by the late San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts, it is stated that while Milk was a resident of Greenwich Village, he started dating 16-year-old runaway Jack McKinley. 34 was Milk. Their partnership has long been the subject of debate. In 2017, New York increased the legal drinking age from 14 to 18. In 1980, McKinley committed suicide. Gavin Newsom, governor of California, referred to Komrosky’s remark as “an offensive statement from an ignorant person.”
“This isn’t Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our kids have the freedom to learn. Congrats Mr. Komrosky you have our attention. Stay tuned,” Newsom posted on Twitter. At an early June press conference, Komrosky stated that his criticisms of Milk “were not based upon him being a homosexual, but rather based upon him being an adult having a sexual relationship with a minor.”
“I would express the same views as any adult who had acknowledged having a sexual relationship with a youngster and was used as an example in K through 5 textbooks. That, not his sexual orientation, is the reason I object to his example, he stated.
Opinions From Parents
According to Kimberly Velez, assistant superintendent of Student Support Services, during the May 16 meeting, the proposed social studies curriculum was a component of a pilot programme that began last year and involved 47 classes with 1,300 students. On Tuesday, the school board hosted a follow-up meeting where residents could express their views on the contentious social studies curriculum.
A parent named Emily Hyer was disappointed after moving to Temecula for the city’s educational system. The pilot programme was attended by Hyer’s son, who she claimed was enthusiastic about what he was learning. Hyer was disappointed by the board’s decision to forbid the programme, especially in light of some board members’ allegations that there was insufficient parental input.
In her own words, “I didn’t think it was important for me to submit comments or attend the last meeting, and I trusted that they would take the word of the professors. “As parents, we place a lot of trust in the teachers because they are the experts and we believe them when they say our schools are great and that something is great.”