California Parents Sue School District Over Unannounced Class Visit From Lesbian Minister

Mon May 11, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

SACRAMENTO, May 11, 2009 ( - On May 5th, more than twenty parents filed suit against the Castro Valley Unified School District, after the District refused to comply with a public records request.  The parents sought more information after learning from their children that a lesbian minister had been invited by the school to speak to math and science classes at Castro Valley High School. According to students, the minister spoke about her lesbian wedding and similar events under the heading "Out for Good."

The parents are represented by staff attorneys with Pacific Justice Institute, which sent a public records request to the school on the parents’ behalf, seeking all records related to the minister’s presentations. The parents also sought any records demonstrating the connection between the minister’s talk and the math and science curriculum.

In response, the school district flatly refused to provide the records. To the astonishment of PJI attorneys, the District invoked the clergy-penitent privilege - ordinarily used to shield ministers from testifying in court about confessions made to them in private. PJI filed a writ petition yesterday in Alameda Superior Court to compel release of the records.

"It’s a mystery to us why the district chose to take such a hard-line approach with these parents who simply wanted all the information they are entitled to about this minister’s visit," noted PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider. "But the parents have a strong right under California law to examine the curriculum and materials associated with in-class presentations, and we intend to vindicate that right."

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "Parents are the first and foremost educators of their own children. Castro Valley’s refusal to honor these parents’ request for basic information reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the school’s proper role as helping - not replacing - parents."

To express concern:

Principle Peter Alvarez
Phone: (510) 537-5910 x3801
Email: [email protected]

Interim Superintendent Jerry Macy
Phone: (510) 537-3335

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