URGENT ACTION NEEDED: for Idaho's children

UP-UPDATED ALERT
ACTION needed ASAP!

Rep. Bob Nonini from Coeur d'Alene has proposed a bill to require parental consent BEFORE ANY STUDENT CAN JOIN ANY SCHOOL CLUB so parents can be "more involved with their children".
Let me correct that...
Sports are exempt.
Competitive scholastic clubs are exempt.
...So it's just the other clubs... like the Gay/Straight Alliance clubs!

Today, April 3, 2006, this bill was introduced. Before 1PM, the House Floor Vote resulted in a vote of 35 yes and 32 no votes ("Read More" for names of who voted how):

IN LESS THAN FIVE HOURS, this bill (WITHOUT ANY HEARINGS) was introduced and PASSED. It was thought that it would NOT be up for a vote until TUESDAY but instead it was slipped in and through the process before people could even have much of an opportunity to discuss it!!

Remember, their excuse is that this bill was designed to encourage involvement by parents (that same "family value" mantra they chant in order to entice the sheep to follow them). How do they explain the "Exceptions to the bill are sports programs and competitive scholastic clubs"? Our star quarterback (awesome heterosexual that he is) doesn't need to ask HIS parents for permission to play football (good ol' red blooded American sport... Yeehah!), but we're keepin' an eye on the queers (dangerous to the fabric of our society)! OH PLEASE! Military recruiters can access our children's files WITHOUT a parent's permission or knowledge ... but don't let the children join social clubs if Nonini's God doesn't approve?

Simply put, this is yet another attempt by the radical religious right to discriminate against gay and lesbians... first their rights to marriage and now their freedom to receive support.

Read more and take action by contacting the Senate Education Committee ASAP!

H0863 by EDUCATION
SCHOOL CLUBS - PARENTS - NOTIFICATION - Amends existing law to direct the boards of trustees of school districts to adopt policies and procedures for notifying parents or legal guardians of students regarding school clubs and organizations in which a student may participate, and for obtaining permission from a parent or legal guardian before the student joins or participates in a school club or organization; and to define "club or organization" and "competitive interscholastic activity or event."

04/03 PASSED - 35-32-3 (REMEMBER THIS ON NOV. 7!!)
AYES -- Anderson, Andrus, Barraclough, Bayer, Bedke, Bell, Black, Block, Brackett, Chadderdon, Clark, Collins, Crow, Deal, Denney, Ellsworth, Eskridge, Field(23), Hart, Harwood, Henderson, Loertscher, Mathews, McGeachin, McKague, Moyle, Nonini, Roberts, Rydalch, Sali, Schaefer, Shepherd(8), Smylie, Stevenson, Wood

NAYS -- Barrett, Bastian, Bilbao, Boe, Bolz, Cannon, Edmunson, Field(18), Henbest, Jaquet, Kemp, Lake, LeFavour, Martinez, Miller, Mitchell, Nielsen, Pasley-Stuart, Pence, Raybould, Ring, Ringo, Rusche, Sayler, Shirley, Skippen, Smith(30), Smith(24), Snodgrass, Trail, Wills, Mr. Speaker

Absent and excused -- Bradford, Garrett, Shepherd(2)

WE ATTEMPTED A THREE-TIERED APPROACH TO STOPPING IT.

STRATEGY ONE: FAILED. Nonini did it anyway...
We sent e-mails to Representative Bob Nonini ASKING HIM NOT TO PUSH THIS BAD LEGISLATION:
a) objecting that there was no hearing and expressing concern that this bill has huge implications for teachers and parents.
b) objecting that he has not been honest about the intent of his bill and that if he is going to promote anti-gay legislation he should say so.
c) explaining that gay-straight alliances (GSAs) are one of the only supports that many kids in Idaho have and that without some support outside the family, many teens turn to suicide.
d) forcing gay teens to get parental permission to attend a school support group or club will put many teens at risk of parental violence or homelessness.
e) It should be the school's first priority to keep kids safe at school and ensure there are no barriers keeping kids from getting the support they need so they do not become victims of violence or suicide.
f) the teens at greatest risk of violence and in greatest need of support will most likely not be able to attend a GSA or group to help them get counseling if they are required to get parental consent.
g) Schools in other states have lost MULTIMILLION dollar lawsuits for failing to ensure kids have a safe environment in which to learn.

STRATEGY TWO FAILED. The vote was called MONDAY before 1PM, before people even had a chance to contact their representatives...

We attempted to educate our representatives about:

  1. How cumbersome and pointless this bill is.
  2. How impossible this bill will be to enforce.
  3. How this bill just imposes an new mandate for more red tape and paperwork on schools and parents.
  4. How this bill is being rushed through without having had a hearing.

All we have left is...
STRATEGY 3: WE DO NOT HAVE TIME TO WAIT... DO IT NOW!
They are trying to pass this quickly and quietly!

Contact the Senate Education Committee where it would go for a hearing AT ANY TIME!

BACKGROUND

Forcing gay teens to tell their parents they are attending a GSA will not be a problem for some but for many kids each year, being forced to come out or even to reveal that they have been harassed as school for appearing to be gay can result in violence, abuse or being kicked out of their homes.

Homelessness and suicide are two of the most major problems for gay teens. Many are rejected by not only their families but they are ex-communicated from their churches and may face violence and threats from peers and friends. Their membership in a support group or club is often BY NECESSITY CONFIDENTIAL.

Idaho has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the nation. Nationwide studies have repeatedly shown that nearly 1/3 of all teen suicides are completed by teens who are facing issues or conflicts related to their real or perceived sexual orientation.

Other people have noted that:
"This is a really simple ACLU case: freedom of association, and absence of a compelling state interest to the contrary.

The argument that children should have parental consent to join after-school clubs does not wash; parental consent has never been a crisis issue before, has never been needed before. It is not as if a sudden new need has been discovered here.

The argument that parents have a right to limit their children's activities in school can be eclipsed by the "in loco parentis" doctrine: the school is empowered to act in lieu of parents in protecting students' safety during the school day; schools are required by Federal law to allow gay/straight clubs as well as other student clubs; therefore gay/straight clubs are considered to be a non-hazardous activity that is suitable for students; case closed.

In point of fact, the suicide statistics could be used to demonstrate a compelling state interest in promoting gay/straight clubs, not denying them. One might even argue that for the state to deny students the right to a form of peer counseling that reduces suicide risk, is placing the students' lives in jeopardy."

Regarding the exceptions to the policy:
"...they can be sued for having exceptions. Either they want parents to know what clubs the kids are joining or they don't."

USE ALL OF THE MESSAGES ABOVE about GSAs, teen safety, and liability (financial and otherwise) to the schools.

PLEASE BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL in your e-mail -- making legislators mad doesn't get their support!

Contact Representative Nicole LeFavour if you have questions.

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My letter to Nonini

What is the purpose of this bill? I'm assuming that this not an issue that is so critical in order to maintain parental control that it needs to be rushed through the process? What problems have been occurring with Idaho school children joining school clubs without parental consent?

I truly hope that this is not about gay and lesbian clubs. Eliminating these clubs and support groups will not change the sexual identity of these students. And HAVING these clubs does NOT change the sexual identity of these students either. If you require parental consent, the only thing you will accomplish is preventing these children from receiving support and acceptance.

You must acknowledge that gay and lesbian children are STILL Idaho's children, no matter WHAT their sexual orientation is determined to be. You need to be aware that without some support outside the family, many teens turn to suicide. FORCING our children to seek parental consent in order to seek support will put many teens at risk of parental violence or homelessness.

Don't you remember the trauma experienced by your classmates who didn't fit in when you were in school? Don't you remember how the bullies physically and emotionally assaulted the kids who were different? Did that change them? Or did it scar them?

I remember VERY clearly who the "fags", "queers", and "dykes" were when I was in high school. I remember VERY clearly how the "jocks" and "popular kids" harassed them and teased them. Guess what? Those CHILDREN didn't even KNOW their sexual orientation at the time. One even married and had a child before he acknowledge to himself that he was gay. How different would their lives had been if they had received support and acceptance from SOMEONE at our school back then? How different would their education and social development had been if they weren't treated as "freaks"? They were as "gay" and "lesbian" back then as they are now... however they were only vulnerable and powerless CHILDREN back then and our society ostracized them anyway. This was over 20 years ago in GOODING... not exactly a hot bed of homosexuality in Idaho. How can we, in good conscience, create a barrier for ANY of Idaho's children as they try to seek acceptance and support?

It is my understanding that the highest cause of death among gay and lesbian teenagers is suicide due to society's rejection from their peers, their churches, and their families. In my opinion, this is NOT acceptable. For you to create a barrier to some form of support for these children is unacceptable and unChristian.

Please reconsider any further efforts to pass this bill. You know that God loves ALL of His children--I hope you do also.

My letter to Representatives

Rep. Bob Nonini has proposed a bill to require parental consent for students joining school clubs. What is the purpose of this bill? Are too many parents complaining about the subversive recruitment of their children into Chess Clubs?

Why didn't it receive any hearings? Is this an issue that is so critical in order to maintain parental control that it needs to be rushed through the process? Is Idaho worried about the health and safety of Idaho children who are joining the Reading Club this month? Are we frightened of the impact upon Idaho children if they join the Dodge Ball Club before school gets out this year?

I'm being silly because this BILL is silly! I have four children in kindergarten, first grade, junior high, and high school. Between school and church and scouts and youth group and sports, BELIEVE ME, I have plenty of permission slips to sign, homework to monitor, field trips to volunteer for, games to attend, teachers to contact, and so on. I am frustrated as it IS with the multiple permission slips that I have to sign JUST so my children can use the internet at school! Why in the world would we require MORE paperwork for families OR schools? I cannot see the purpose in this ridiculous bill.

From the school's point of view, how much many more responsibilities do we need to pile on them? I am frustrated with how many expectations are placed upon school staff, when I just want them to successfully educate my children. These poor people are being asked to do too much as it is... and God forbid, if they aren't perfect, we will make sure they are blamed. It is too difficult as it is for them to be contacting parents when our children are receiving poor grades, because of the heavy load they already carry. If any adult is willing to contribute the time and energy to coordinate a club to enhance my child's lifelong educational experiences and social development, then more power to them. This bill isn't to protect our children--it's to prevent them from accessing additional life lessons and skills. If a school district has enough staff, money, time, etc., in order to provide clubs, then WHY would we try to make it harder for students access these opportunities? Why in the world would Idaho want to approve of such a nitpicking bill?

And what will you expect schools to do if a student's parent (for whatever reason, maybe the father is a uneducated alcoholic and doesn't want his son learning how to play chess in the chess club?) doesn't sign a permission slip? Is Idaho willing to prevent this child from expanding his horizon because of that? And what is the punishment going to be if a student joins Drama without her mother's permission? Do we punish the student? The drama coach? The school?

Don't rush into making any decisions about this bill. If you think about it for a while, you may realize that it is a foolish piece of legislation that isn't in the best interest of our children or our schools. Better yet, please don't spend hardly any time on it at all and file it in the "round file" and use the time instead to focus on passing bills that would be more beneficial for Idaho children and families.

Responses from Reps as of 9:35AM Monday

"I am not yet familiar with the bill you reference; but, from your comments I would believe you are right. I hope you are contacting Rep. Nonini. thank you for contacting me."
--Rep. Barrett (R)

"Thank you for writing. I also do not feel that the legislation is necessary nor needed."
--Rep. Darrell Bolz (R)

"This sounds like it should be a decision made at a local level by your school board, if it is seen as a problem. Thank you for drawing my attention to this legislation."
--Representative Kathy Skippen (R)

They didn't even know about the bill this morning!

Talk about a bill being railroaded through! These comments from GOP lawmakers prove that this was a rush job from Bryan Fischer and his crew.

Thirty-five lawmakers (all GOP, I bet) voted OK on this despite NO public hearings, no committee vote, and the fact many of them didn't even know it was coming to the floor until it did. What a sham. Thanks, Diana, for bird-dogging this for all of us. Let's all write the Senate Ed Committee and hope the Senate stops it.

URGENT UPDATE!!! Time to move on to stage 3!!

"Thanks for writing about this bill H 863 and parental consent forms for clubs - your contact was timely.

Today, April 3, 2006, the House floor took a vote. I voted NO because I believe this is a local school district discussion and decision. After lengthy floor debate, the House Floor Vote resulted in a vote of 35 yes and 32 no votes.

So now the bill goes to the Senate."
--Rep Jana Kemp

Sent to Senate Education Committee

{compiled from first two letters}

Why hasn’t this bill received any hearings and is being quietly rushed through our legislative process? This bill was presented the morning of Monday April 3, passed the house before 1PM and immediately sent over to the Senate! No hearings, no time for public disclosure or discussion? Is Idaho so worried about the health and safety of Idaho children who are joining the Reading Club this month? Are we frightened of the impact upon Idaho children if they join the Dodge Ball Club before school gets out this year?

I have four children – one each in kindergarten, first grade, junior high, and high school. Between school and church and scouts and youth group and sports, BELIEVE ME, I have plenty of permission slips to sign, homework to monitor, field trips to volunteer for, games to attend, teachers to contact, and so on. I am frustrated as it IS with the multiple permission slips that I have to sign JUST so my children can use the internet at school! Why in the world would we require MORE paperwork for families OR schools? I cannot see the purpose in this ridiculous bill.

From the school's point of view, how many more responsibilities do we need to pile on them? I am frustrated with how many expectations are placed upon school staff, when I just want them to successfully educate my children. These poor people are being asked to do too much as it is... and God forbid, if they aren't perfect, we will make sure they are blamed. It is too difficult as it is for them to be contacting parents when our children are receiving poor grades, because of the heavy load they already carry. If any adult is willing to contribute the time and energy to coordinate a club to enhance my child's lifelong educational experiences and social development, then more power to them. This bill isn't to protect our children--it's to prevent them from accessing additional life lessons and skills. If a school district has enough staff, money, time, etc., in order to provide clubs, then WHY would we try to make it harder for students access these opportunities? Why in the world would Idaho want to approve of such a nitpicking bill?

And what will you expect schools to do if a student's parent (for whatever reason, maybe the father is a uneducated alcoholic and doesn't want his son learning how to play chess in the chess club?) doesn't sign a permission slip? Is Idaho willing to prevent this child from expanding his horizon because of that? And what is the punishment going to be if a student joins Drama without her mother's permission? Do we punish the student? The drama coach? The school?

Let's get real here. The sponsor of this bill and the legislators who voted for it have a hidden agenda. They aren’t really worried about some kid in Ski Club. They are actually reflecting their homophobia and bigotry and that is NOT acceptable for Idaho.

This is 2006—not 1950! Have our esteemed legislators not realized that eliminating these support groups will not alter the sexual identity of these students one way or another? If Idaho requires parental consent, the only thing our state will accomplish is preventing these children from receiving compassion, support, and acceptance. In addition, if our school districts are unable to ensure the safety of our children by providing education and support through these clubs due to this state-sanctioned discrimination, then they will be liable for multi-million dollar lawsuits if any gay or lesbian child is assaulted as a result of their sexuality. Are you willing to be responsible for those assaults?

You must acknowledge that gay and lesbian children are STILL Idaho's children, no matter WHAT their sexual orientation is determined to be. You need to be aware that without some support outside the family, many teens turn to suicide. FORCING our children to seek parental consent in order to seek support will put many teens at risk of parental violence or homelessness.

Do you remember the trauma experienced by your classmates who didn't fit in when you were in school? Do you remember how the bullies physically and emotionally assaulted the kids who were different? Did that change them? Or did it scar them? How will the attitude reflected in this bill permeate our schools? This bill will make a statement that Idaho condones homophobia and our children will be victimized not only by you, our legislators, but the school system and all the way down to the bullies in their own classrooms.

I remember VERY clearly who the "fags", "queers", and "dykes" were when I was in high school. I remember VERY clearly how the "jocks" and "popular kids" harassed them and teased them. Guess what? Those CHILDREN didn't even KNOW their sexual orientation at the time. One even married and had a child before he acknowledge to himself that he was gay. How different would their lives had been if they had received support and acceptance from SOMEONE at our school back then? How different would their education and social development had been if they weren't treated as "freaks"? They were as "gay" and "lesbian" back then as they are now... however they were only vulnerable and powerless CHILDREN back then and our society ostracized them anyway. Can you even comprehend their pain, confusion, fear and suffering? This was over 20 years ago in GOODING... not exactly a hot bed of homosexuality in Idaho. How can we, in good conscience, create a barrier for ANY of Idaho's children as they try to seek acceptance and support?

As I said earlier, I have four children. I truly hope that they all are heterosexual. Not because it matters to me who they love, but because I know that they will suffer because of homophobic and hateful actions from people who support bills like this. I pray that if they do need support and compassion as they struggle with their self-identification issues (as we ALL do as we go through our teenage and young adult years) whether it is their sexuality or spirituality or whatever, that they have outside resources for this process if they are scared or embarrassed to come to their parents. I will not pretend that, as their mother, I can always be there for them as they need me to be... or that they will always feel safe coming to me with their inner fears and insecurities. Parents who believe differently are fools and are doing a disservice to their children.

In addition, it is my understanding that the highest cause of death among gay and lesbian teenagers is suicide due to society's rejection from their peers, their churches, and their families. In my opinion, this is NOT acceptable. For you to create a barrier to some form of support for these children is unacceptable and unChristian.

Any efforts from the state of Idaho to prevent any of our children to access support and compassion as they struggle with their sexual identity will make YOU responsible for any harm that comes upon them as you condone this blatant effort to discriminate against them. Do NOT be a part of this hate crime! What will be next? Will we go back to the 1950s and prevent girls from taking autoshop classes and boys from taking drama? How far backward is Idaho willing to go before we acknowledge that homosexuality is not a choice, but just another one of God's creations?

Please STOP any further efforts to pass this bill. God loves ALL of His children--I hope you do also. We need to listen to God in our hearts and souls -- and NOT what the conservative religious right tell us to believe. This is not about votes and constituents... this is about our CHILDREN.

My letter to Representatives who voted FOR this bill

Dear Reps. Anderson, Andrus, Barraclough, Bayer, Bedke, Bell, Black, Block, Brackett, Chadderdon, Clark, Collins, Crow, Deal, Denney, Ellsworth, Eskridge, Field(23), Hart, Harwood, Henderson, Loertscher, Mathews, McGeachin, McKague, Moyle, Nonini, Roberts, Rydalch, Sali, Schaefer, Shepherd(8), Smylie, Stevenson, Wood:

I'm unbelievably disappointed in the motivations of those of you who voted for HB863 today. Can any of you truly explain to me what the purpose was of this bill? It was NOT such a critical issue that it needed to be rushed through the process, but you did it anyway.

Please don't pretend to Idaho citizens that this bill was to keep parents involved in their children's lives. Only the most foolish and naive believe THAT to be true. Since sports and competitive scholastic clubs are exempt, are you going to pass another bill requiring mandatory attendance by parents to their events... all in the name of "parental involvement"? I didn't think so. Right now, our military recruiters have the ability to access our children's educational files and RECRUIT in the schools WITHOUT parental consent or knowledge... are you taking action against that as well? I didn't think so.

I had truly hoped that this is not about gay and lesbian clubs. SURELY you are aware that eliminating these clubs and support groups will not change the sexual identity of these students one way or the other. By requiring parental consent, the only thing you will accomplish is preventing these children from receiving support and acceptance.

I thought you realized that gay and lesbian children are STILL Idaho's children, no matter WHAT their sexual orientation is determined to be. FORCING our children to obtain parental consent in order to seek support, understanding and compassion will put many teens at risk of parental violence or homelessness. I truly hoped that you recognized that without some support, many teens turn to suicide. That is why confidentiality was so important to these children. The message you sent today is that suicidal, abused, and homeless children are acceptable for you--as long as they are not heterosexual.

I had hoped that you remembered the trauma experienced by your own classmates who didn't fit in when you were in school. Was it that so long ago for you that you've forgotten? Don't you remember how the bullies physically and emotionally assaulted the kids who were "different"? Did that change them, did it make these CHILDREN "normal"? Or did it scar them emotionally and spiritually...?

It was twenty years ago but I remember VERY clearly who the "fags", "queers", and "dykes" were when I was in high school. I remember VERY clearly how the "jocks" and "popular kids" harassed them and teased them. How different would their lives been if they received support and acceptance from SOMEONE back then? How different would their education and social development been if they weren't treated as "freaks"? They were as "gay" and "lesbian" back then as they are now... however they were only vulnerable and powerless CHILDREN back then and our society ostracized them anyway. This was over 20 years ago in GOODING... not exactly a hot bed of homosexuality in Idaho. They were only CHILDREN.

It is my understanding that the highest cause of death among gay and lesbian teenagers is suicide due to society's rejection from their peers, their churches, and their families. In my opinion, this is NOT acceptable. For you to create a barrier to some form of support for these children is unacceptable and unChristian. How COULD you, in good conscience, have created a barrier for ANY of Idaho's children as they try to seek acceptance, compassion, and support? Please explain to me what your reasonings were, because I just cannot comprehend how you could abandon these children. What WAS your purpose? Because it was clearly not "parental involvement", due to the "exceptions" in the policy and your lack of concern about the military recruitment of our children without parental consent. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. This was a discriminating bill--based upon homophobia and bigotry. And you approved of it in our great state of Idaho. This is shameful.

God loves ALL of His children--it's painfully obvious that you have chosen to be selective.

I apologize for being so harsh, but I truly expected Idaho's representatives to rise above hypocrisy and hatred and to use their awareness of science, statistics, and plain ol' common sense when voting for this bill. I'm greatly disappointed and, with this type of leadership, very concerned for the future of our state if decisions continue to be made with this type of mentality.

My letter to Representatives who voted AGAINST this bill

Dear Reps. Barrett, Bastian, Bilbao, Boe, Bolz, Cannon, Edmunson, Field(18), Henbest, Jaquet, Kemp, Lake, LeFavour, Martinez, Miller, Mitchell, Nielsen, Pasley-Stuart, Pence, Raybould, Ring, Ringo, Rusche, Sayler, Shirley, Skippen, Smith(30), Smith(24), Snodgrass, Trail, Wills, and Mr. Speaker:

Thank you so much for recognizing that HB863 was poor legislation at this time. It may never be good legislation (in my opinion, it won't), HOWEVER, today you were not provided enough time and discussion to determine its legitimacy, legality, or the impact upon our children.

As you already are aware from my previous letter, I felt the motivation behind this bill was based on discrimination and not sincerely to "encourage parental involvement". I do not know your reasons why you did not support this bill... perhaps you felt it was based upon discrimination also ... or perhaps you felt you needed more time to discuss it or investigate any potential liabilities in the schools... or maybe you have other reasons entirely.

Whatever your reasoning was, please know that I admire and respect your committment to your legislative responsibility. This should NOT have been a partisan issue--this was about our children. The decision to pass this bill today may have long-lasting and forever-damaging impacts on Idaho's CHILDREN... and you did your best to prevent that from happening.

Thank you again for your wisdom and compassion. I truly hope members of the Senate also share those attributes, for the sake of the children.

chess_club

I'm just glad that my son will have to notify me if he wants to join the chess club. Do you realize what they do in that club? The inherant violence, the masochism, and heaven forbid that he could lose a chess match! His fragile self-esteem could be ruined for life!

It's a good thing that the Idaho Legislature is out there parenting my child when I'm too lazy to.

This may be dead

It sounds like this bill may die a well-deserved death in the Senate Ed Committee:

http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/boise/archive.asp?postID=3101

Everyone wants to go home.