Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The whole first-grade-field-trip-to-gay-wedding deal

I'm sure you've heard of the latest hype about "First Graders Taken to San Fransciso City Hall for Gay Wedding." A pro-Prop. 8 mailer I received yesterday says:

Just recently in San Francisco, first grade students were taken on a school-sponsored field trip to a gay wedding. The school's principal called it 'a teachable moment.' Gay marriage WILL be taught in California public schools if we don't pass Proposition 8.

A public school took a first grade class to see a gay wedding to indoctrinate children on the moral equivalence between gay and straight marriages! We have to vote for Prop. 8 or else this practice will become widespread!

Breathe, breathe. All right, now let's consider some facts that will help us better understand what was going on here:

1. The wedding the children attended was for their school teacher, Erin Carder, who was marrying her partner, Kerri McCoy.

2. The field trip was not arranged by the teacher or the school principal. It was arranged by one of the parents, with the school's permission.

3. The trip was meant to be a surprise for Ms. Carder. The students took a Muni bus then walked a block to City Hall. They surprised their teacher by blowing bubbles and throwing rose petals as she and her partner emerged from City Hall, then they mobbed Ms. Carder with hugs.

4. It appears that some of the parents attended the wedding with their children. Take a look at these photos and decide for yourself.

5. As with all school field trips, parents have a right to opt their children out. Two families did.

6. The school is Creative Arts Charter School. I think of charter schools as sort of a hybrid between a public and private school. Like a public school they are government funded, but like a private school they are allowed a certain amount of freedom to chart their own educational course. Creative Arts Charter School uses innovative teaching methods, relies heavily on parental involvement (parents are required to volunteer 40 hours a year at the school) and refers to experience-based learning as "a teachable moment" (a phrase that is mocked by the pro-Prop. 8 mailer). They are a small, community-based, K-8 school with only eleven classroom teachers and less than 200 students. In other words, they are far from your typical public school.

So . . . will voting for Prop. 8 prevent charter school parents from arranging surprise field trips to the weddings of well-loved first grade teachers? The difference is maybe a parent will arrange for the school kids to surprise their teacher at her civil-union ceremony instead of her wedding ceremony. Is it worth amending the state constitution to deny an entire segment of the California population their marriage rights to achieve this difference? Just asking.