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Prejudice has no place in classrooms or California

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Supporters of Prop. 8 like to say that their measure will protect kindergarteners from learning that gay and straight marriages are equal. But would it be better to teach students that legalized prejudice and discrimination are acceptable? As a high school social studies teacher, I’ve been agonizing lately because two core parts of my job — fostering respect for democracy and maintaining impartiality when teaching about current issues — are on a collision course in my classroom. How do I explain Prop. 8 as anything but an assault on the legal rights of law-abiding citizens? In 11 years of public school teaching, I’ve witnessed no small amount of homophobic misbehavior. When confronted, kids who shout “that’s so gay” or “you’re a fag” usually apologize and agree to knock it off. Thankfully, this problem has improved in the last decade. In fact, students in my classes and school overwhelmingly support gay marriage rights. Should their parents go along with Prop. 8’s dishonest rhetoric and prejudice-fueled objectives, it will be a rotten lesson in both tolerance and democracy. Matt Johanson Soda Springs