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parents and their families who have been hurt over the years, along with a pledge to purge your district of these outdated forms and ideas, as we move to a future where students are measured by their merits, and not their parents.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

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Fashion designer Tom Ford announced that he would be joining the growing ranks of lesbian and gay parents by having a kid in 2008. He told a magazine that “I’ve always wanted kids. I don’t want to get to be 75 years old and just have made a lot of dresses, done some houses.”

Tom Ford has been with his partner, photographer Richard Buckley, for more than 20 years, and this is clearly not a decision that has been made lightly. But since gender is no longer an impediment to having children, why is it still an impediment to marriage?

It is wonderful that we live in a country where people like Brad Pitt, Heath Ledger and Tom Ford can intentionally have their kids out of wedlock, but I believe it would be a better world if people who want to make the commitment of marriage had the freedom to do that.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Thank God for Happiness

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Happy Thanksgiving!

At the dinner table this afternoon my mother told me that her friend Harold had shown her pictures of his grandchildren for the first time last week. She said that he hadn’t wanted to show them because he felt bad that they would “never have grandkids of their own.”

If I had been less blessed, I would have never have found my ‘soulmate,’ been Domestic Partnered and pursued surrogacy, and they wouldn’t have grandkids. But life has been bountiful for me. My parents are grandparents, and now they are happy for Harold, Harold is happy for them, and I am happy that they are happy. Yeah happy!

On this day of giving thanks, I want to thank you for giving California an environment where lesbian and gay families can exist, and giving me the freedom to ask my government to get off of my back and let these couples wed. Please support the freedom to marry, and make more happy people.

Yours,

Today’s letter – back to basics

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I was lucky enough to find somebody that I love, who loves me back. We have been together ten years, two months and twenty-one days, and our two kids are celebrating their first half-birthday today.

We want to get married just like you and Maria, and everybody else. The people, the legislature and our church all support our choice – why don’t you?

Please sign AB 43 and end the special exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in California.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – First comes Love

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The rhyme goes:

First comes love (we met June 22, 1997)
Then comes marriage (we were married in San Francisco on Valentines Day 2004)
Then comes baby in the baby carriage (we had twins – a boy and a girl – in March)

We did everything right! But our marriage was annulled by the state and now we’re reduced to groveling for our equivalent legal rights through the domestic partnership system.

Now won’t you do what’s right? California should have one word for marriage: “marriage.” Please sign AB 43 and give us back our marriage.

Today’s letter – Let them wed

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

In the October 2006 issue of Esquire magazine, Brad Pitt said “Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able.”

Their kids – and ours – deserve to have parents who are legally married. Please sign AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act and let them wed!

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Taking care of parents who take care of kids

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Through my parenting group, I know several gay couples who have adopted children that were either abused or unwanted.

I wish these foster parents could get married. It would provide a stronger legal framework and access to services; it would remove the stigma attached to any child who has unwed parents; and it would reward these families with the basic dignity that ‘domestic partnership’ can never deliver.

These kids deserve parents who are married. I wish you would sign AB 43 and help Californians say no to discrimination.

Many thanks in advance,