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Education Reporter

A Small Victory over Political Correctness
Orlean Koehle
Orlean Koehle
By Orlean Koehle

Santa Rosa High School in Santa Rosa, CA, made national news last April, but not for high test scores or extraordinary scholastic achievement. California is at the bottom of the heap in academic performance, ranking dead last among the 50 states in math and science and close to the bottom in reading. Santa Rosa public schools are no exception, but the emphasis these days is not on academics.

The publicity was in response to Santa Rosa High School's four days of non-academic, politically-correct indoctrination called "Days of Diversity," held April 16-19, 2001. Education Reporter carried a front-page story about it in the May 2001 issue, and World Magazine and Dr. Dobson's Citizen Magazine also published articles. Rush Limbaugh addres-sed it on his talk radio show, and Dr. Stan Monteith interviewed me on his radio program, which is broadcast here locally and on 24 nearby stations.

The week-long event began with a highly offensive assembly called "Sex and Stuff," witnessed by 1,700 students. The assembly was not mentioned in a letter sent home to parents announcing the Days of Diversity. One mother who had gotten wind of it from a friend called the school on the morning of the assembly, but the school secretary denied that an assembly was scheduled.

Several Eagle Forum members and I had also heard about the assembly and decided to attend. We understood why the school did not want parents to know about it; most of them would have been as outraged as we were. It began with a very sexual dance between a boy and a girl, followed by three simulated sex scenes behind a curtain. There was a rap song promoting the school's view of "abstinence" - self gratification, a scene with students shouting their solutions to all sexual problems - "Hey, condom man!" after which a large male student appeared with condoms dangling from his ears, nose, eyes, and all over his body.

Another scene depicted two lesbians who greeted each other affectionately and walked arm-in-arm off the stage; presumably another form of "acceptable sex" recommended by our public schools. The play ended with a boy committing suicide, which is no longer considered shocking given the death and dying classes that are taught and the suicide notes that are written for school assignments.

Protests and Petitions 
Several outraged parents later called the school superintendent to protest the assembly. I filed a formal complaint and one parent contacted an attorney to start a lawsuit against the principal for allowing her son to witness the assembly without her permission. She had sent in a form opting her son out of the entire week, as did other parents. The opt-out forms had simply been ignored in violation of California Education Code 51553, which states that, when a school presentation is scheduled regarding sex, parents must be given a 10-15-day notification and allowed to opt out their children.

I wrote articles describing the assembly and the politically-correct classes we attended throughout diversity week. These included anti-American, anti-free enterprise, pro-Cuban, pro-Marxist classes, anti-police presentations, and extreme environmental classes disparaging any use of America's natural resources and urging children to become vegetarians. Eight or more classes presented homosexuality as a normal, acceptable lifestyle and suggested that anyone who disagrees is biased, homophobic, and intolerant. Name-calling is not allowed during presentations in our "hate-free" public schools except when talking about Christians. Then, it is open season. Christians are labeled "hateful" and called every name in the book.

Eagle Forum began gathering hundreds of signatures on petitions protesting these types of presentations in our schools, asking that they be stopped or strictly regulated, with balanced viewpoints allowed on controversial issues. We presented these petitions at school board meetings, along with copies of the articles appearing in national publications about Santa Rosa's Days of Diversity, and we spoke out about the event whenever and wherever we could.

A similar event had occurred the previous year at Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa, but only for one day. Eagle Forum also protested that event. One year later, the situation was even worse, with a whole week of leftist, pro-gay propaganda fed to students!

Regulations Enacted! 
After two years of relentless efforts by concerned parents and Eagle Forum members, along with the threat of a lawsuit, Santa Rosa School Board trustees and the district superintendent finally in Dec. 2001 devised regulations governing diversity days' activities and granting much of what we asked for. There would be no more diversity week; only one day per year would be allowed. Offensive or questionable presentations or assemblies were prohibited, and a balance of speakers would present both sides of controversial issues, with names of speakers and sample handouts made available to students and parents 45 days before the presentations. If these regulations are violated, the principal is held accountable.

In line with the new policy, the "Day of Dialogue" at Maria Carrillo High School on April 22, 2002 was very different from previous events held at both Maria Carrillo and Santa Rosa High Schools. The vice principal asked me to submit a list of speakers and invited me to meet with the principal and assistant superintendent a few weeks prior to the event to ensure that all was in order. What a difference two years of protests made!

Judeo-Christian Presentations 
The speakers and topics selected for the event from the list I submitted included:

  • "Why Down Syndrome Babies are Becoming Extinct," presented by the parents of a 1 -year-old Down Syndrome son. They explained that these children are becoming extinct through abortion despite the joy they bring to families.  
  • The Pregnancy Counseling Center described the stages of growth of a developing fetus and explained what really happens during an abortion.  
  • A police officer discussed his job and effectively countered the anti-police presentations I heard last year during Santa Rosa's Days of Diversity.  
  • Eagle Forum member Kathy Rice spoke about Abstinence Until Marriage.  
  • I gave a talk on the U.S. Bill of Rights vs. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, refuting Amnesty Inter-national's slanted description two years ago of the Bill of Rights as "an old-fashioned, outmoded document that never had anything to do with the equal rights of all people because it was written by white slave holders."

I had also recommended that a panel of ex-gays from New Hope Ministry be allowed to balance the six or eight scheduled pro-gay presentations, but was overruled. Instead, a minister was invited who supposedly told students that homosexuality was a "choice" and not genetic. I did not see this presentation nor did I hear about it, but I disagree that one speaker was sufficient to balance the others. I heard that about 700 students failed to show up at school that day, and that attendance at the pro-gay presentations was very low. Hopefully, students are tired of this subject being forced down their throats.

Another interesting note is that because school officials were willing to accept my input, the "Day of Dialogue" included no radical environmental presentations, which was highly unusual since the event took place on Earth Day. I would have liked some environmental truth to be heard, but as long as the usual indoctrination was not presented, I could live with it.

Two other speakers presented Christian topics, and a Jewish rabbi was also allowed to speak. A Christian counselor answered questions about therapy. It was very gratifying that our side had 10 speakers who gave five presentations each for a total of 50 presentations; quite a difference from the liberal-leftist viewpoint that had previously carried the day.

The feedback I received was very positive; all our presentations were well received by both students and teachers. I would say that we have finally made some inroads, and attorney Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, who advised us during our fight, called the "Day of Dialogue" a "victory for our side"!

Orlean Koehle is president of California Eagle Forum.

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