At least two conservative groups in California urged parents to keep their kids home from school Wednesday, Harvey Milk Day, an annual and official statewide observance that honors the first openly gay man elected to public office in California.
SaveCalifornia.com urged an all-out boycott of school Wednesday, saying state laws “call upon all K-12 government schools to teach children as young as 5 years old to honor homosexual activist and sexual predator Harvey Milk.”
Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a conservative public interest law firm in Southern California, asked parents to consider keeping their kids home, or at a minimum calling the school to find out how the day would be celebrated inside the classroom.
Bob Tyler, lead attorney at the firm, said educators who mark the May 22 occasion – which was signed into law in 2009 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – often gloss over the fact that Milk, a homosexual rights activist, had a sexual relationship with a teen younger than 18. What’s more, educators often glamorize his public assassination, but he was killed over a political disagreement, not because of his homosexuality, Tyler said.
“They give history lessons on why he was such a wonderful human being, when in fact (someone who has) gay sex with minors is not the type of person” to be celebrated, Tyler said in an interview with The College Fix.
The bill signed into law to mark Harvey Milk stated in part that “…perhaps more than any other modern figure, Harvey Milk’s life and political career embody the rise of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement in California, across the nation, and throughout the world.”
Ways schools honor the occasion include classroom discussions, assemblies and assignments. Some teachers bring it up, others don’t.
In alerting parents to the celebration, Advocates for Faith & Freedom stated that “the bill does not require that the school notify or seek permission from parents – so it is up to you to find out if your child’s school will be celebrating this day, and whether you want your child exposed to possible activities.”
“Parents need to stay informed so they can hold public schools accountable,” Tyler said.
It’s unclear whether the boycott had any effect.
Pam Slater, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Education, told The College Fix that the agency does not track daily attendance at local schools, so officials would not know if there was any kind of fluctuation in attendance Wednesday.
As to the conservative groups’ efforts, Slater said that “school is a place where a child goes to learn about the world around them and the people who have helped to shape it. We hope that all parents send their kids to school to learn every day.”
Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix.