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Abstract

In August 2009, a group of parents in California filed a lawsuit, Balde v. Alameda Unified School District, in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda. They alleged that the Alameda Unified School District refused them the right to excuse their children from a new curriculum, Lesson 9, that would teach public elementary school children about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) families. The proposed curriculum included short sessions about GLBT people, incorporated into more general lessons about family and health, once a year from kindergarten through fifth grade. Kindergarteners would learn the harms of teasing, while fifth graders would study sexual orientation stereotypes. One parent alleged that, although an overwhelming majority of parents spoke out against CLBT instruction at numerous school board meetings, the board chairman repeatedly told the public that the curriculum was evenly supported and opposed. Parents suspected the board had a preconceived political agenda behind the proposal. Other parents expressed their full support for the proposed curriculum because, noting that the school is a reflection of the community and the world, children from a very early age should see what the world is like. The parents' petition for a writ of mandamus to require the school district to excuse their children from Lesson 9 was denied by the Court on December 1, 2009, and the pleadings filed do not claim any violation of the children's rights under the Constitution. This Article studies the constitutionality of Lesson 9 in California public elementary schools.