It seems that Harvey Milk is too controversial for sixth graders who attend the Mt. Woodson Elementary School in Ramona, CA.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, sixth grader Natalie Jones decided that after watching the Oscar-winning film, Milk, she would do a presentation about his career in politics and activism. But the school had other ideas. The day before Natalie was to present her project, she was called into the principal’s office and was told that she could not talk about Harvey Milk because it violated the school dristrict’s strict policy on “family life and sex education.”
In what seems to be a lame attempt to placate protesters, days later Natalie was told she could only give her presentation during recess, and students would be required to get parental permission before they could attend…
The school’s policy states that parents will be notified if their children are being exposed to lessons about “human reproductive organs and their functions, processes, or sexually transmitted diseases” as well as “family life, human sexuality, AIDS, or sexually transmitted diseases.” So how does Harvey Milk go against that policy? Does this mean current event reports about openly gay Congressman Barney Frank also violate this policy?
In a press conference yesterday, Natalie’s mother, Bonnie Jones, called the school’s reaction “unbelievable.” “To say my daughter’s presentation is ‘sex education’ because Harvey Milk happened to be gay,” she exclaimed, “is completely wrong.”
The ACLU has filed a complaint against the school and I couldn’t agree more. This is homophobia at its worst. Since when is the mere fact that a person is gay enough to exclude their contributions to society and remove them from their rightful place in history?
The assassination of Harvey Milk, as well as Mayor Masconi (who was not gay), is part of California’s history. The election and subsequent murder of Milk were events that had a great impact on both California and the country at large. Should this part of history be swept under the table simply because Milk was gay? Wasn’t this what Harvey was fighting about? Lost his life over?
The school’s reaction is over-the-top and it is this type of small minded thinking that keeps homophobia alive and kicking. And that’s why we need to stand up against it, gay or straight, so that some day a person’s accomplishments can be appreciated and celebrated, regardless of his or her sexual orientation.
If you are as shocked and saddened as I am about this homophobic, misrepresentation of the school’s policy, please email the school’s principal at email@example.com and tell her what you think of her ridiculous decision to censor a sixth grader’s report on a famous historical figure, simply because he was gay.