Kern High School Board Rejects Harvey Milk Day

Board of Trustees Pass Policy To Keep Lessons Of Gay Politician Out Of Classroom

The Kern High School Board of Trustees has voted against commemorating the life of assassinated San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.

A special meeting was held in the district's board room Wednesday morning, after board Vice President Ken Mettler proposed a policy that would prevent schools within the district from recognizing Milk in the classroom.

With three yes votes, one no vote from President Joel Heinrichs and an abstention from Chairman Bill Perry, the motion was passed.

But it wasn't before the public got a chance to weigh in on the issue.

"I want to speak out against making Harvey Milk Day a recognized holiday," said one man.

"Make no mistake, you will be sending a message to gay students that they don't matter, and their positive role models don't matter," said Carol Lair.

May 22 was designated as Harvey Milk Day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the legislation into law last October.

It is not considered a national holiday; however, the state Legislature is encouraging schools to hold lessons remembering the politician and his accomplishments.

Milk served 11 months on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before he was assassinated.

While Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected into public office, Mettler argued that his sexuality alone should not earn him a recognition in the classroom.

"We should recognize individuals based on their achievements, not based on their sexual orientation," said Mettler.

Even though Milk served as the main topic in Wednesday's meeting, it was Mettler who was questioned about his own agenda.

"Harvey Milk Day this year falls on a Saturday, making recognition in the school this year a moot point. But wait, someone on the board was running for the 32nd Assembly seat, bringing the issue up now before the election would look good to a tea party base," said Lair.

Mettler fired back by saying his history shows a consistent stance of social issues.

"Everything from Easter to Christmas in our school system, to I was Kern County chairman for Prop. 8, for traditional marriage. This is very consistent with my private and personal persona," said Mettler.

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