Why I Oppose SB 572—Establishment of a Day of Recognition for Harvey Milk

California Senate Bill 572 as proposed by Senator Mark Leno would establish a day of recognition for Harvey Milk, a homosexual activist. As the bill states, “This bill would provide that the Governor proclaim May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk Day, and would designate that date as having special significance in public schools and educational institutions and would encourage those entities to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.”

Harvey Milk’s life was characterized not by contributions to this state, but by contributions to the LGBT movement. Therefore, dedicating a day to him would be dedicating a day to the LGBT movement, not to honoring a man who helped California. And as of right now, there are 16 student-led days honoring the multi-sexual movement (everything from Day of Silence, Gay Pride Day, to the festivities surrounding Martin Luther King Jr Day). Do we really need to take another day away from school to teach about Harvey Milk?

If it’s just about the fact he was brutally murdered, why not have a Mayor Moscone Day? They were both killed for the same reason—they did not want Mr. White to have his position back as supervisor. Mr. Milk was not murdered because he was gay, so why are we even considering a state day of recognition for him that would promote the LGBT lifestyle?

There are more deserving people who should receive a day of recognition before Harvey Milk. What about Walt Disney who brought billions of dollars of revenue into our state and who continues to encourage children to hope, dream, and achieve great things. What about Ronald Reagan who was a California governor who went on to become President and essentially, end Russia’s control of Germany?

If we really want to designate a day of recognition to someone who did nothing for our state but was a civil rights leader, what about Jackie Robinson? He broke the color barrier in baseball here in Los Angeles. His courage has had more impact on our state and our nation than Harvey Milk has.

Side Note: I am not in favor of a Walt Disney Day, a Ronald Reagan Day, or a Jackie Robinson Day. I believe we should allow the teachers to teach their curriculum without taking time out for special interest days. As it is, our children rank as some of the poorest educated in the nation. Last year 69% of 8th graders were not proficient in reading skills. 23% couldn’t do basic math and writing exercises. We need to focus on educating our children who are suffering from a lack of education already.

What it comes down to is Harvey Milk is a local figure who, as Governor Schwarzenegger has said, should be and has been honored locally. There are several schools named after Harvey Milk, recreation centers and parks bear his name, local clubs and organizations honor him, a movie has been made about his life, and a bust of him was introduced in front of San Francisco City Hall not long ago. We don’t need a state mandate to honor Harvey Milk.

Mr. Black recently said that it would cost nothing to have this day of recognition but it would cost much to not have it. He alluded to the fact that many children face name-calling and bullying based on their sexuality. If that is happening, then schools are not obeying the law. Law already states that children are not allowed to be discriminated against based on race, sexuality, or any ethnic diversity. That’s something that Harvey Milk Day wouldn’t help, but schools enforcing state law would help.

In the end, I think we can all agree that our children’s primary focus at school should be learning. Learning the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and science so they have a better chance of succeeding in the world. Since we’re obviously failing in those areas, it’s time we got back to focusing on schooling rather than politicking in the classroom.

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