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PrEP
December 2008 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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Pledge Cards to Promote a Safer School Banned from Elementary Students

Hayward, CA
 
During the school’s National Ally Week, some kindergarteners at Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science saw pledge cards intended for middle school students, which asked them to support a safer environment for students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Middle school students at Faith Ringgold involved in the Gay Straight Alliance club were passing out pledge cards and the club’s faculty advisor accidentally passed the cards out to a kindergarten class as well.[1] The kindergarten teacher’s mistake has caused a controversy after some parents complained to the district. 
 
The pledge cards, which ask students to promise to “not use anti-LGBT language or slurs, intervene — when I feel I can — in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students, and actively support safer schools efforts,” were designed by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) for middle school and high school students.[2] According to the school district, the cards were a part of a curriculum designed to promote safe and inclusive environments on campus as part of October’s National Ally Week.
 
Parents raised concerns about the cards after they were given to the kindergarteners. Some parents made connections to the state’s ballot initiative to ban gay marriage (Proposition 8, which had yet to be voted on but has since passed) and accused the school of “promoting gay and lesbian ideals.” Others complained that their children are too young to be exposed to the topics and called the distribution of the pledge cards a “psychological crime” for which the teacher should be prosecuted.[3]
 
California’s elected school chief responded by saying that what happened in Haywood had nothing to do with Proposition 8: “Schools are already required to teach tolerance of gays and lesbians under the state’s comprehensive anti-bullying law, and the ballot measure won’t change that.”[4]
 
School officials met with parents to address all concerns and assure that all kids are safe at Faith Ringgold. The district also conducted an investigation into whether materials used in relation to National Ally Week were suitable for all grade levels. The school’s statement explained that “The Faith Ringgold teacher planned to teach students how to become an ally and conflict mediation. We apologize for any misunderstandings, however, we support curriculum that teaches the diversity of our society and complies with all state laws.”[5]
 
In regards to whether the pledge cards will be used again next year, the district spokesperson replied “it’s safe to say the pledge cards will not be used for kindergartners and any other elementary students.”[6] A recommendation on new materials and changes will go before the school board in the future.


[1] Kristofer Noceda, “Hayward school to hold parent meeting over pledge card incident,” The Daily Review, 3 November 2008, accessed 3 November 2008, <http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview/localnews/ci_10890488>.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] “Hayward Parents Upset Over Anti-Gay Slur Pledge,” Associated Press, 29 October 2008, accessed on 4 November 2008, <http://cbs5.com/local/gay.marriage.schools.2.851074.html>
[5] Ibid.
[6] Noceda, “Hayward school to hold parent meeting.” 

National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education