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ARNOLD VETOES SCHOOL BILLS TOLERANCE IS KEY WITH BOTH PLANS.

Byline: KAREN MAESHIRO Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed two bills that some local parents, pastors, educators and elected officials said were attempts to advance a gay agenda and subvert parents' moral authority over their children.

The governor vetoed Assembly Bill 606, which would have required schools to adopt policies barring discrimination based on a person's ``actual or perceived gender identity and sexual orientation,'' and Assembly Bill 1056, which would have promoted the instruction of tolerance.

Local critics said AB 1056 would redefine the word ``tolerance'' to require acceptance of alternative lifestyles such as homosexuality and bisexuality, and AB 606 would authorize the state schools superintendent to withhold funds from schools deemed to be out of compliance with such anti-discrimination laws.

A group called Concerned Parents of the High Desert called a news conference Wednesday to denounce the bills and sent a letter signed by 45 parents, educators, City Council members, school board members, pastors and church representatives urging a veto.

Schwarzenegger wrote in veto messages released Thursday that the bills would create a new state mandate on schools and would largely duplicate current law.

The governor noted that the policy mandated by AB 606 prohibits discrimination based on characteristics already covered in law.

``However well-intentioned, this bill creates a new state mandate on schools at a time when our state currently owes almost half a billion dollars in unpaid mandates. Adding another unfunded state mandate to our school districts when we have not paid for existing mandates is irresponsible,'' the governor said.

Additionally, the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 already prohibits discrimination and harassment in public schools and requires schools to have a policy against discrimination that applies to all the protected categories of students, the governor said.

On AB 1056, Schwarzenegger said current law already establishes a Center for the Excellence on the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance to provide teachers the training and resources to effectively teach about these subjects. In addition, the state has adopted a human rights curriculum that is available to all schools.

The governor noted that the center is required to submit a report by Jan.31 outlining its activities and reporting the progress made in achieving its goals.

``It would be prudent to review the progress being made before any additional actions are contemplated,'' he wrote.

Schwarzenegger earlier this month vetoed Senate Bill 1437, which would have prohibited school instruction, textbooks and activities that ``reflect adversely'' on people based on their sexual orientation or religion.

AB 606 by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, would have required schools to adopt a policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment based on characteristics, including a person's ``actual or perceived gender identity and sexual orientation,'' provide training for staff on how to handle discrimination and allow the state schools superintendent to withhold funding for the district if it is not in compliance.

AB 1056 by Assemblyman Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, would have established a pilot program at 10 schools to promote the instruction of tolerance and intergroup relations and encourage schools to consult with human relations commissions and civil-rights organizations.

karen.maeshiro(at)dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 30, 2006
Words:530
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