The Starting Line – ‘Pray the Gay Away’ Seeks to Live Another Day

The ultra conservative Pacific Legal Institute has joined forces with an ordained minister/counselor of Rancho San Diego’s Skyline Church in filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn a newly signed California law that bars licensed mental health professionals from utilizing “reparative therapies”, on teenagers.  Also known as conversion therapy, reparative therapies claim to change sexual orientation, and, although they have been widely condemned by medical authorities, are popular with fundamentalist Christian groups and other right-wing religious organizations.

The suit, filed on behalf of Dr. Donald Welch, who is also affiliated with a chain of Christian Counseling Centers throughout the San Diego region, who claims the law, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, violates First Amendment and equal protection rights. A Culver City man who claims to have benefited from the therapies is named as the official plaintiff.

The Skyline Church, which has provided a venue for conservative speakers like Glen Beck, hosted a conference with the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in July of this year. They also made national news last winter as one of the so-called Christian Right groups attending a summit aimed at stopping the candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney.

Here’s UC Santa Barbara’s Josh A Goodman writing (with lots of informative links) at the Huffington Post about just how bad these so-called therapies really are:

How a few key groups–family, friends, and schools–treat an LGB teen’s sexual orientation can greatly influence that teen’s mental health. Schools are often far from affirming; GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey found that 82% of LGBT teens were harassed at school because of their sexual orientation, while 64% felt unsafe at school. A good social support network can give an LGBT teen resilience, but having anti-gay friends can contribute to the stigma LGBT teens feel. How open-minded parents are can be a tossup, with a recent Pew Research Center survey finding thatone-third of adults believe that homosexuality should be discouraged by society, while many more stopped short of believing that lesbian and gay people should have equal rights.

That’s where the therapist comes in. The kids who are forced to participate in conversion therapy are already among those whose parents are against homosexuality. At least four-fifths of these kids face harassment at school, too, though I’d bet that it’s more since anti-gay parents are more likely than others to live in socially conservative areas. A therapist who affirms that a gay teenager is okay for being himself and helps him find ways to cope with parents who believe he’s a sinner and classmates who taunt him with “no homo” and “faggot” can be a major help in a world where many people are against him. But a therapist who encourages the same conflicted kid to try desperately hard to become something that he is not, and teaches him to feel like a failure if he is true to himself, builds on all the negative messages he gets at home and at school. Such a therapist is yet another barrier to positive mental health.

 Much of the core of so-called “pray the gay away” therapies is based on scientific work done by Robert Spitzer, who has recanted his conclusions and apologized to the gay community for making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. California will become the first to outlaw the practice for people under the age of 18 in America.

San Diego School Bond Supporters to Hold Rally

typical right wing view of school board

The ultimate battle for the heart and soul of San Diego’s political future may not lie in any of the more well-publicized races for higher offices in the region.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that the mayoral contest and others like it are important. But there’s tons of big money, ground troops banging doors hustling for votes and media attention focused on those efforts.  Meanwhile, a simple school bond measure, something that’s normally generally supported by voters, may be the ultimate litmus test for this election as the right wingers in this town are doing their level best to sow misinformation, confusion and discord about the subject.

Supporters of Proposition Z, a $2.8 billion bond proposition for school construction, maintenance and repairs in the San Diego Unified School District, will hold an after school rally on Thursday, October 4th at the corner of Park Blvd and Zoo Dr/Morley Field Dr., across the street from Roosevelt Middle School.  Starting at 3:30 kids will be encouraged to create signs and banners to express their support for Prop. Z, followed at 4:15 with a program featuring speeches by local students.

The San Diego Unified proposal has been caught up in the controversy surrounding allegation of poor financial management surrounding a construction bond measure passed in the Poway School district.  The SDUSD measure will address maintenance and major facility repairs on existing buildings have been deferred for many years due decreases in funding from the State General Fund monies that have resulted in a in a backlog that can no longer be ignored. In addition, it will enable the district to sustain and upgrade the technology that has been rolled out under the i21 Initiative, and strengthen the technology infrastructure, all of which is critical to students’ 21st century learning.

Conservative political elements, along with Tea Party-type groups, are using Proposition Z as a focal point to gin up attacks on the San Diego Unified School Board, which they see as being hopelessly dominated by liberal and progressive leaning interests.  Since these conservative groups have generally failed to get their way at the ballot box, and State indices measuring student performance show San Diego to be at the head of the pack when compared to other urban systems in California, the hubbub surrounding Poway’s problems is being used to create confusion by right wingers.

The arguments made by right wingers against these school bonds are based on two premises:

**They argue that this measure is nothing more than a payoff to construction unions due to the fact that SDUSD uses Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) as a tool for managing construction projects.

** Opposition to the measure will also try to leverage the meme that the current School Board is untrustworthy and cannot manage the District’s money.

We’ll address these arguments in detail in a later article, but suffice it to say that, once you drill down to the actual realm of facts, neither argument holds water.  What is true is that the existing make up of the SDUSD School Board is like waving a red cape in front of an angry bull for local conservatives, who have vowed to do whatever it takes to replace or neutralize the Board’s influence.

Prop Z is endorsed by the San Diego Schools Police Officers, San Diego Education Association, Parent Institute for Quality Education, American Federation of Teachers and the San Diego Taxpayers Advocate

   ‘Won’t Back Down’ Flops at the Box Office

A movie portraying teachers and teachers unions as the culprits in low student achievement that was actively promoted by so-called education reform groups around the country has recorded the lowest opening weekend ever box office sales for a film playing more than 2500 theaters., which keeps records going back three decades, reports that ‘Won’t Back Down’ barely squeaked past the $2,636,048 in tickets sold by a 2008 dud called ‘The Rocker’ for the bottom spot.  (Earlier reports that the film had only nailed down second to last place have now been  corrected as final figures have been tallied)

“Won’t Back Down,” was produced by of Walden Media, owned by billionaire investor and right-wing extremist Philip Anschutz. Anschutz participates in the Koch brothers’ secretive political strategy summits and funds the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which backs legislation designed to cripple unions; the Discovery Institute, which seeks to get creation “science” accepted in public schools; and the Mission America Foundation, whose president considers homosexuality to be a “deviance.”

The film was distributed by Fox, whose owner Rupert Murdoch describes the nation’s education system as a “500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.” Murdoch also owns a education testing company that would stand to benefit should classroom test scores continue to increase as a measure of success in the field.

Locally the film was supported by ‘Up for Ed’, which gave away tickets to the premiere and offered up a ‘discussion panel’ on education that failed to include even one teacher.

City Council Approves Funding for Balboa Park Garage

The San Diego City Council voted 7-1 yesterday to approve a $17 million bond that will be used to pay for a garage containing 800 paid parking spaces in Balboa Park. The only opposing vote came from District 1 Councilmember Sherri Lightner.  The garage is part of the Plaza de Panama Project advanced by local billionaire Irwin Jabobs.

The proposed renovations of the Balboa Park area also include the construction of a bypass road off of the Cabrillo Bridge and planners expect that the renovations will ultimately cost about $40 million, with $25 of that pledged by Jacobs. The rest of the revenue is supposed to come from parking fees. Critics of the plan have questioned the financial assumptions underlying that expectation.

Community sensitivity about the park’s historical significance and accusations that other improvement plans were ignored have fueled a firestorm of debate over the past two years.

San Diego Democrats Take the Upper Hand in Local Voter Registration

A report released Monday shows local Democratic Party voter registrations now leading Republicans by a margin of 3.881 voters.  San Diego Dems say this increase is a key sign of momentum for their candidates just before many ballots hit mailboxes next week.

Of the county’s 1.48 million voters indicating a major party affiliation, 518,463 are Democrats and 514,582 are Republicans.  Last month California Secretary of State Debra Bowen launched a website at where Californians can sign up to vote online for the first time ever and the response has been very strong, with over 100,000 people registering during its first week of operation.

San Diego GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric blamed the Democratic surge on paid canvassers, telling the UT-SD that he was confident his party would outperform their disadvantage in registration numbers come election day.

Tweet of the Day:

On This Day: In 1922 Rebecca L. Felton became the first female to hold office of U.S. Senator. She was appointed by Governor Thomas W. Hardwick of Georgia to fill a vacancy. In 1945 Elvis Presley appeared in a talent show at the age of 10. It was his first public appearance. He won 2nd place and $5. In 1990 the Berlin Wall was dismantled eleven months after the borders between East and West Germany were dissolved.

Eat Fresh!  Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Carlsbad (Roosevelt St. btw Grand Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr.) 1 – 5 pm, Encinitas Station (Corner of E Street & Vulcan in parking lot B) 5 – 8 pm, Mission Hills  (Falcon St. btw West Washington & Ft. Stockton) 3 – 7 pm, North San Diego at Sikes Adobe Farmstead  (I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway. 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido.) 11 am – 2 pm, Ocean Beach  (4900 block of Newport Ave. btw Cable & Bacon Sts.) 4 – 8 pm, San Marcos – Cal State San Marcos  (333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., Parking Lot B) 3 – 7 pm, Santee  (10445 Mission Gorge Rd. abandoned school parking lot) 3 –7 pm, Temecula (40820 Winchester Rd. Promenade Mall, parking lot btw Macy’s & Penny’s)9 am – 1 pm

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Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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