Sixth-Grader's Milk Project Blocked

Kim Conte

A sixth-grader in San Diego was prohibited from presenting her report on gay rights leader Harvey Milk until her classmates got their parents' permission to hear it. (Harvey Milk was one of the first gay men elected to political office in the United States in 1977 when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The Oscar-nominated movie Milk with Sean Penn chronicled his life.) According to the school district, parental permission was required because the topic dealt with "sex."

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is threatening to sue the school, saying that it violated the student's right to free speech. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the ACLU maintains that a biographical report on a gay elected official does not qualify as a lesson dealing with "sex" or "sex education":

"It's not about sex, it's not about sex education. It's a presentation about a historical figure who happened to be gay," David Blair-Loy [legal director of the ACLU of San Diego Count] said.

The ACLU is demanding that the school apologize to the student, allow her to present her report in class, and clarify its sex education policy.

This comes on the heels of a recently passed California bill that would establish Milk's May 22 birthday as an "annual day of significance" in the state. Supporters of the bill hope that this will encourage schools to discuss his career and legacy.

It sounds to me like there is a lot of confusion around what schools do or do not consider to be "sex education."

What do you think? What is your school's policy on sex education? Has your child's reports ever required parental permission?

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