NPFC member remarks as delivered to NUSD Board on 6/3/2003  in regards to "That's a Family"

I am Diane Petersen, a registered nurse, a single parent, mother of 3, with a NHS student, and a member of NPFC

Reasonable people can and will disagree about "That's A Family." For example, the Novato Advance included the following in their April 9th editorial: "How diversity came to be hi-jacked as almost exclusively a gay rights issue we don't know. But race played a bit part and [social] class --- which we suspect is, by far, the most striking personal difference experienced by Novato kids --- didn't get a mention."

In contrast, a follow-up letter to the editor on April 30th about "That's A Family" offered this opinion: "[t]he film makes no attempt to teach family values or promote any particular lifestyle " Here are some objective facts about "That's A Family" that help understand such reasonable disagreements:

  • The 35 plus minute video has a 3-minute introductory segment.
  • Next is a 3-minute segment on Mixed Families, featuring 1 family.
  •  Next is a slightly less than 5 minute segment on Adoptive families, featuring 2 families.
  •  Next is the Grandparent/Guardian segment, which is slightly over 5 minutes long and features an African-American family involved with drug use.
  • Next is the Gay/Lesbian segment. It is over 7 minutes long and features 3 families.
  • Next is the Separation and Divorce segment, which is slightly less than 5 minutes and features 1 family.
  • Next is the Single-Parent Family segment, which is slightly over 4 minutes long and features an Hispanic-American family.
  • It ends with over 2 minutes of credits and music.

I am concerned the Gay/Lesbian segment is the only one to feature 3 families, that it is strategically placed near the middle, and is over 2 or more minutes longer than the rest. In percentage terms, it is 40% or more longer than the others. Also, quotes not consistent with abstinence outside of marriage in both this segment and the Single Parent one are certainly not needed to help teach safety and respect to the film's intended audience of K-6th grade. Others have also found portions of the video objectionable due to racial stereotypes in the Grandparent and Single Parent segments and because the Divorce and Single Parent segments may raise personal or emotional issues not well suited for a classroom setting.

Some of this material doesn't seem necessary to fulfill the video's stated purpose. And given their age, one or more 5th graders could even possibly be influenced to question their sexuality or future sexual habits by some of that material. Should public schools really run the risk of possibly influencing even just one child in that way? Do you really want that kind of potential responsibility? Why do so when it's not needed to teach mutual acceptance and respect in other areas. For example, world history classes cover various religions, but they do not and can not encourage students to embrace any particular religion or to question their own.

We request that you not approve this video. It is not consistent with our mission statement of "keeping academic excellence paramount by helping ensure a safe and respectful school environment for all. As such, we of course support diversity awareness and only ask that it be age appropriate and respectful of our role as parents. In short, we are here first and foremost for our children."

Thank you.

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