A new public school curriculum, designed to "sensitize" students to accept - or at least tolerate - homosexual lifestyles as just another way of living, is on the drawing boards here.
Last week, the San Francisco school board unanimously voted to set up an advisory committee to revise the teachers' guide in an elective course called "General Health and family Life" to reflect the facts of gay life and other human diversities. The course is part of six education curriculum, and, in one form or another, is taught from kindergarten through twelfth grade to some 69,000 students in 130 schools.
It has not yet been determined which grades will receive the new material.
Parents who have objected to the course can get their children excused by written note. Such notes, however, are "are," said a school board official.
So far these has been scant public opposition to the bord's establishment of an advisory committee to revise the hourse, and no mass outpouring of fear that such a revision might serve to recruit budding herosexuals into homosexual lifestyles.
"I don't have any sexual attraction to the kids I teach," says Tom Ammiano, 35, the leaeer of the Gay Teachers and School Workers Coalition, who has taught reading to kindergraten through third grade for the last seven years at Buena Vista School along with teacher education courses. "The suggestion that gay teachers are trying to recruit kids for sexual liaisons because they can't procreate is a pernicious myth. We have our professional ethics just like heterosexual teachers and one taboo for all of us is sexual involvement with our students.
"I like to touch kids and they like to sit in my lap, but it's the act of a loving, giving adult, not a pervert. The kids can sense this. I used to have great anxiety that physical expressions of affection would be misinterpreted before I came out of the closet, but not anymore. My influence won't change a kid's sexual preference. I had straight teachers when I grew up and I did't go straight."
Any hint of such a proposal in Miami schools, joked one public school official who asked to go unnamed, "would surely have caused Anita Bryant to pray for a tidal wave to wash Sodom and Gomorrah into the Atlantic Ocean."
Bryant's campaign to repeal the Dade County, Fla., gay rights ordinance - which goes to the voters today - has launched an attack on the image of San Francisco, a city renowed for its large - by some estimates 100,000 in a city of 600,000 - political active gay population and its tolerance for individual differences.
Mayor George Moscone was described by aides as "angered and upset" by the Florida remarks and the general tone of the anti-gay Save Our Children campaign. "First Bryant debased people who don't meet her personal standards of normalcy, and now she would debase a city," he said.
"Until this Bryant controversy," said Betty deLosada, the school district's public information officer, "the proposal to revise the teaching guide was not a big issue."
During the two years that the proposal has been open for debate at school board meetings, she said, no one stepped forward to oppose it.
In fact there has hardly been a blink over the proposed course revision. No public figure has come out against gay rights.
But there are hints of a modest heterosexual backlash on the horizon. City Supervisor Dianne Fienstein, a moderate to liberal politician and author of a antidiscrimination ordinance here similar to the one at issue in Dade County, feels the pendulum of tolerance is swinging too far.
"It's a colossal mistake to teach gay sexology in the public schools," she said. "You're providing an option for youngsters when they're going through an impressionable period. It could open up the door to the worst kind of experimentation. We may live to regret it.
"I know I'm going to be called 'Miss Goody Two Shoes." Gays should not be harassed [for their sexual prefence] but it's reached the point where their lifestyle are imposing on others," she said.
The proposal was initiated two years ago, after a small group of gay high school students and teachers complained to the city's Human Rights Commission about verbal and physical harassment from other students and teachers. The commission studied the complaints and concluded the curriculum now makes "negative reference to gays." Last year, the commission passed a resolution calling for the school district to "portray objectively" all ways of living, regardless of sexual orientation.
"The idea," said Gail Roberts, are HRC community coordinator, "was to call on the board of education to make the curriculum accurate and no judgmental" to stop harassment of homosexuals.
There have been reports of high school vigilante squads roaming the halls to harass a feminate male students and even venturing into predominantly gay areas of the city to beat up suspected homosexuals.
"'Faggot' is the byword," says Ammiano. "I hear it repeated by first graders, even though they don't know what it means. You hear it everywhere."