Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 13, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

TROUBLE IN PARADISE....For anyone who thinks liberal Californians have only a distant and skewed view of the Christian right, think again:

A board majority in a small Orange County school district on Monday risked millions of dollars in funding and a possible state takeover by voting to hold firm to its view that a California antidiscrimination policy violates Christian principles.

In a series of votes over recent months, the three-trustee majority on the five-member board has made the Westminster School District the only one of 1,056 in California to resist a state law that lets students and staff define their own gender. Such a policy, the trustees say, could lead to promotion of a transsexual agenda in the classroom, cross-dressing on campus and boys and girls mixing in school bathrooms.

...."My kids are going to suffer because of the three village idiots," said parent Louise Morley before Monday's vote. "You can't bring religious beliefs into public education."

Westminster is hardly the only school district in Orange County to engage in this kind of nonsense, but it's special for me because I grew up right next door. This little soap opera has been in progress for three months now, and the board majority has stayed firm despite the fact that (a) their position is unquestionably illegal, (b) they are risking a state takeover of the district, (c) the community is against them, (d) the PTA is against them, (e) the mayor, a born-again Christian, is against them, (f) they are playing games with millions of dollars in state and federal funding that might be cut off, and (g) even the Bank of America is concerned. They have halted a $16-million loan until they evaluate how the board's stance might affect the district's financial security.

And here's a historical note for you. Contrary to popular belief Jim Crow wasn't limited just to the South. Guess which California school district forced its segregation policy all the way to the Supreme Court?

Westminster has had its share of decisive moments, when residents have had to decide whether to accept change or draw the line. In 1946, for example, the Mendez family won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended the Westminster School District's policy of sending whites and Latinos to separate high schools.

The case resulted in a court order that desegregated all schools in Orange County, which in turn energized a statewide movement and lead to the eventual prohibition of segregation in California.

Westminster is leading the way again.

Kevin Drum 12:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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