Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SF Chronicle: S.F. schools consider costly gay support program

This from yesterday's SF Chronicle:
With everything from art classes, summer school and jobs on the chopping block this year, the San Francisco school board will decide this week whether to greatly expand school services, support and instruction on issues of sexual orientation.

The decision could cost the school district, which is facing a $113 million budget shortfall over the next two years, at least $120,000 a year - enough cash to cover the salaries of two classroom teachers.

The school board is expected to vote Tuesday on the fiscally controversial resolution calling for San Francisco Unified to add a new full-time staffer to manage "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning" youth issues in the district's Student Support Services Department.

It also would require the district to track harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and distribute an educational packet to parents, encouraging them to discuss "the issues of sexuality, gender identity and safety" with their children.

That commitment probably would cost about $90,000 a year for the staffer and maybe another $30,000 for the rest.

San Francisco school officials have long backed education and support of gay and lesbian support services and recently created the nation's first school district Web site for gay youth.

That's in contrast to some other school districts. Last year in Alameda, for example, a torrent of controversy was unleashed over plans to introduce a 45-minute lesson on gay and lesbian issues. The lesson was eventually adopted by that school board over the objections of some parents who said it violated their rights to teach their children their opinion of such issues.

That's not the issue in San Francisco. Money is.

Current lesbian and gay services, including the Web site and sexual orientation curriculum, are funded by outside grants that aren't guaranteed year to year.

But it's not enough, said school board member Sandra Fewer, who wrote the resolution with help from the Student Advisory Council and the city's Human Rights Commission.

"It's not like we don't have any money," she said. "It means we have to prioritize our monies."

With the district's looming $113 million shortfall, few district programs or services will survive unscathed.

"There's not enough money in the general fund for the general purposes," board member Jill Wynns said. "Just add (this) to the $113 million deficit."

Having said that, Wynns said she doesn't know how she'll vote Tuesday.

"I don't want to vote against it," she said.

Read the full story

1 comment:

  1. Again, this account fails to take into account an amendment made in the budget committee last month: