Dear Mr. Deasy – Our School’s Enrollment Forms are Broken

John Deasy, Superintendent
Los Angeles Unified School District
333 South Beaudry Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90017

August 21, 2012

RE: Emergency Information Card and Permanent Health History forms

Dear Mr. Deasy:

Our children started in Kindergarten last week.  Two of the forms that were issued, the Emergency Information Card FORM 34-EH-12 Rev. 1/94 and the Permanent Health History FORM 34-EH-67 7/88 had spaces for “Mother” and “Father” instead of “Parent” or “Guardian.”

As you probably know from your own statistics, the percentage of mother-father households with children under 18 represents less than 25% of all American households.  As you may learn from your legal department, California law has required gender neutrality in public forms since 2005 (AB 849).  As you must know from visiting any school today, same-gender and single-parent families abound.  LAUSD is far behind on this issue, and terribly wrong for two important reasons.

In a school system where the participation of parents is critical to the quality of our schools and the education of our children, where you are begging parents to be part of the school, the first message that you are sending to 75% of your families is that they are are not welcome.

The second message that you are sending, to every parent who has to fill out these forms, is that a child with a father and mother is somehow better than a child who doesn’t have a father and a mother.  As the California legislature pointed out, this sets up a hostile situation that fails to protect the children.

I would like some swift action on this matter. You could start with an apology to the single- and same-gender parents and their families who have been hurt over the years, along with a pledge to purge your district of these outdated forms and ideas, as we move to a future where students are measured by their merits, and not their parents.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Stand for what?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

George Wallace gave his inaugural speech as Alabama Governor on January 14 1963:

In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.

Over the next few years he became increasingly convinced that segregation would destroy civilization. He blocked black students from entering a white school until Federal Marshalls and the National Guard compelled him to stand aside. President John F. Kennedy, he said, “wants us to surrender this state to Martin Luther King and his group of pro-Communists who have instituted these demonstrations.”

Well, racial segregation ended, and there are few today who would argue that we are worse off because of it. Even Wallace himself was “born again” in 1977 and apologized to the people that his bigotry harmed.

You had a chance to change history, Governor, by signing AB 43. You chose to follow Wallace instead, to the determent of your party and your people. When are you going to apologize?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – apology acceptable

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

A videotape recently surfaced from 1991 showing of a member of the Canadian parliament, Saskatchewan MP Tom Lukiwski, describing homosexual men as “faggots with dirt on their fingernails that transmit diseases.”

Mr. Lukiwski has apologized twice for his comments, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper said “I believe that when such apology and remorse is sought from an individual member, the generous and high-minded thing to do is to accept that apology.”

So whenever you are ready to apologize for your 2007 veto of AB 43, the bill that would have let me and my domestic partner finally get married, you can be sure I will be sufficiently generous and high-minded to accept it. But until you apologize, I reserve the right to be mean and bitter toward the person who would not let me have the one simple freedom that you and your wife enjoy so freely – the simple freedom to marry.

Yours,