Sunday, September 13, 2009

Milking some recognition

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Those of you that read this blog know that I’m pro-gay rights, including marriage. I think that it’s a Constitutional issue that reeks of segregation.

Now we have a bill on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk called SB 572, or the Harvey Milk Day bill. For those that don’t know, Harvey Milk was a controversial gay rights activist that eventually became the first gay politician voted into office. Milk, along with Mayor Moscone (above), were assassinated in 1978.

This bill would provide that the Governor proclaim May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk Day, and would designate that date as having special significance in public schools and educational institutions and would encourage those entities to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.

It’s fun watching people squirm over this. All those “family values” groups are acting like the day of recognition will create some new wing of the public education sector that pushes kiddies into becoming the next member of the cast of Queer Eye. Like teachers sit around and figure that somewhere between the Principles of the Constitution and Basics of Congress, we need to give a damn about sexual orientation. One parent said that if the bill passes that she’ll pull her kids out of the local public school and home school them. Let me be the first to say, good.

Those that actually think that these days of recognition are a big deal are sorely mistaken. “Encourage (public schools) to conduct suitable commemorative exercises”? Let me tell you what happens on the other “days of recognition”. In California, there are three.

-Second Wednesday in May: Day of the Teacher. Law says: “exercises commemorating and directing attention to teachers and the teaching profession”. On most years I’ll get a piece of paper thanking me for being a teacher. Sometimes I’ll get a carnation from Student Government. I think we had a BBQ for teachers from the admin one year. Student involvement: Next to none. Oh, and it is important to note that on this day, I did attempt to indoctrinate any students into the teaching profession. I swear.

-April 26: John Muir Day. Law says: “exercises stressing the importance that an ecologically sound natural environment plays in the quality of life for all of us, and emphasizing John Muir’s significant contributions to the fostering of that awareness and the indelible mark he left on the State of California”. I didn’t even know this existed. Student involvement: I think that in my nine years of teaching that one student might have said the name John Muir at some time during the year, but I can’t confirm that. Oh, and I did not attempt to indoctrinate anyone into the Sierra Club on this date either.

-April 6: California Poppy Day. Law says: “exercises honoring the California Poppy, including instruction about native plants, particularly the California Poppy, and the economic and aesthetic value of wildflowers; promoting responsible behavior toward our natural resources and a spirit of protection toward them; and emphasizing the value of natural resources and conservation of natural resources”. Ok, I do believe that at one time a few years ago I admitted to picking a California Poppy when I was six years old, and went through a horrid period of guilt. Student involvement: I think I’ve seen students doodle Poppies when bored with a lecture, but it could have been a different wildflower. Oh, and I might have pushed kids towards liking wildflowers. I think they’re pretty.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think that Milk should have a day named after him because I think there are others that might deserve it more. Milk was gay and elected to office and fought for civil rights. That should be applauded. Was he the most important Californian this side of John Muir? Probably not. And to be really narcissistic, I think that Milk is getting more attention from the State and Federal governments because it appeases those that support gay marriage, and takes attention away from the real issue.

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