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parents and their families who have been hurt over the years, along with a pledge to purge your district of these outdated forms and ideas, as we move to a future where students are measured by their merits, and not their parents.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 – a mother is a female parent

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Now that our kids are old enough to celebrate various holidays, the question rises about how to handle Mother’s Day. When a friend asked just that on the patio after Church today, I explained that a mother is a female parent just like a father is a male parent. So on Mother’s Day we celebrate the female parents in our family – two grandmothers and a great-grandmother – and the role they played in our lives.

With no more fanfare than distinguishing between “Latino” and “Latina” or “waiter” and “waitress,” we addressed the issue to everybody’s satisfaction.

I am very happy with this explanation of Mother’s Day. You and I both know that it is wrong to assign genders to pilots, engineers, nurses, doctors and priests, and it is equally wrong to assign genders to caregivers.

Having two words is one thing, having two sets of laws is another. I wish we could just call two parents who are raising their kid “married” like our Church does instead of something qualified by their gender like your Government does.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – driving for change

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

On this day in 1909, Alice Huyler Ramsey arrived in San Francisco to become the first woman to drive the 3,800 miles across the United States from coast to coast, showing the people of the time what was obvious but not taught: that there are no limits inherent to gender.

The twenty-one-year-old Vassar graduate, accompanied by two sisters and a female friend, took fifty-nine days to cross in a green Maxwell 30. She later became a successful author and the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

At the time of her crossing, it was a “big deal” because it undermined those who were teaching that women were less capable than men and less worthy of making individual decisions simply because of what was between their legs.

Now, 99 years later, we are still having problems understanding that both women and men can be both mothers and fathers. Thank God we have finally understood that there are no limits to marriage.

Sincerely,

Today’s stamp: “Vintage Mahogany Speedboat” The 1915 craft pictured could reach speeds of 30 miles per hour whether driven by a woman or a man.