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Bending gender

"Bending gender" Continued...

Issue: "Abolition of C.S. Lewis?," June 16, 2001
  • The board "clarified" which schools the law covered, changing the term "public schools" to "local agency," then defining "local agency" to include private schools.
  • The board re-imagined the penal-code definition of gender, omitting "the defendant's perception of the victim's gender," and substituting verbiage such as "a person's actual sex or perceived sex," and "a person's perceived identity." That language shift made people who determine their own gender, such as cross-dressers and transsexuals, protected classes in Golden State private schools.
  • Wherever AB537 prohibited exclusion from school programs or jobs by educational institutions receiving state funds, the board inserted the term "federal funds," thus capturing more private schools.

Karen Holgate, director of policy at the conservative Capitol Resource Institute in Sacramento, said the board may have cleverly expanded Title 5's impact on private schools: Since all public schools receive federal funds of some kind, including the word "federal" in the code would not change the number of public schools affected-only private. California pro-family legislators and activists charged that the board had overstepped its bounds, creating new law instead of clarifying existing law. But the Office of Administrative Law, the state agency charged with reviewing the board's rule change, did not agree, and approved the new language in April. Still, religious conservatives have an opening to mount a legal challenge: Title 5's amended wording conflicts with religious-exclusion language in AB537. Under that law, educational institutions controlled by religious groups are exempt from hiring, say, a transvestite or openly homosexual teacher, if school administrators object to doing so on religious grounds. Meanwhile Title 5 may have nullified for California parents any positive outcome of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June: That decision upheld a government program that has loaned materials such as computers to religious and other private schools. That was good news then, but now any California private school receiving such a loan would be considered a "local agency" and thus snared in the new gender dragnet-regardless of any moral or religious principles.

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