State Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco has proposed legislation to make Harvey Milk’s birthday a day of special significance in California with his bill SB 572. Days of Special significance cost the state of California no money where state employees and school employees do not receive the day off.
The bill was previously vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger because he believed that Harvey Milk should have been commemorated in San Francisco only, but it’s agreeable when Senator Leno said the Milk movie made the struggle of Harvey Milk a national issue.
People do need role models to counter the spite and malice that goes around society. Karen England of Capitol Resource Family Impact says we need to focus on academics not holidays on each special interest group, but due to the bullying in our school house walls it is difficult for these students to even concentrate on academics. Sadly Karen England wants to trivialize the accomplishments of Harvey Milk just because he is a gay man.
Harvey Milk was inspirational to many people because he gave thousands of gay youth a reason to live. The opposition may not be happy that Harvey Milk was one of the first leaders to defeat one of their measures to discriminate against LGBT people. Traditionalist activists such as Lou Sheldon and Karen England may think if students learn about historical figures such as Harvey Milk, impressionable youth will catch the gay and turn queer. However these individuals don’t realize that being gay is not like catching the N1H1 flu virus. Harvey Milk gave the LGBT community hope in the quest for equality during his short life.
It seems that ‘pro-family’ organizations just want to keep the fuel of ignorance and prejudice just to make a buck. If bullying of gay and lesbian students ended they would not have new foot soldiers to feed their bank accounts and activist army. It is abhorrent how organizations such as Capitol Resource Family Impact paint themselves as being the victim of hate and intolerance from the gay community when their activism does not paint themselves as perfect angels when children such as Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover at age 11, hung himself because he could not endure any more anti-gay taunts. Children straight, gay and perceived to be gay do not need this abuse.
The conundrum is causing a backlash where parents want to indoctrinate their children with the values they want because children are easily impressionable and they do not want their values to conflict with the messages taught at the public schools they send their children to. Public schools are for all students no matter what their ethnicity, religion or sexuality might be. Students should be taught to treat all students with respect even if you do not personally agree with one’s religion or sexuality.
Harvey Milk was not a perfect individual, however as honest historians we should express the positive as well as the negative with his life story. If we have to purge historical figures because of their unflattering histories, our history books would be more condensed than a Reader’s Digest Condensed Novel. Should we stop using computers because the father of modern computing was a homosexual? Should we stop sending email because a homosexual helped invented the email distribution program sendmail? If we used the same argument from the opponents, would simply sending email be an endorsement of homosexuality?
Ending anti-gay harassment is about academics, all children deserve a quality education no matter what race, and creed or sexuality a child may be. Harvey Milk Day may be a symbolic gesture to show to the people of California the accomplishments of a martyred civil rights activist. Before there was President Obama there was a leader thirty years prior that taught California about hope.