By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A group of 20 parents are suing the Castro Valley Unified School District in California for refusing to provide them with information about what was said to math and science students during an address by a lesbian minister.
According to a press release by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a law firm that is representing the parents, the information was sought after they learned from their children that a lesbian minister had been invited by the school to speak to math and science without parents knowledge. Students said the minister spoke about her lesbian wedding and similar events under the heading “Out for Good.”
“(S)he shared her personal views on homosexuality, including a discussion of her lesbian wedding, the homosexual prom, and other such events and things that many parents were very concerned about once they heard this had taken place,” said Brad Dacus, PJI founder, to OneNewsNow.
The firm immediately sent a public records request to the school on the parents’ behalf, seeking all records related to the minister’s presentations, as well as any records demonstrating the connection between the minister’s talk and the math and science curriculum.
In response, the school district flatly refused to provide the records. To the astonishment of PJI attorneys, the District invoked the clergy-penitent privilege – ordinarily used to shield ministers from testifying in court about confessions made to them in private. PJI filed a writ petition yesterday in Alameda Superior Court to compel release of the records.
“It’s a mystery to us why the district chose to take such a hard-line approach with these parents who simply wanted all the information they are entitled to about this minister’s visit,” noted PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider. “But the parents have a strong right under California law to examine the curriculum and materials associated with in-class presentations, and we intend to vindicate that right.”
Mr Dacus added: “Parents are the first and foremost educators of their own children. Castro Valley’s refusal to honor these parents’ request for basic information reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the school’s proper role as helping – not replacing – parents.”
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