Fisting, but not Fistfights

Its just another Orange Unified School District meeting

Photo by Daniel C. TsangThe paranoid specter of gay teens instructing fellow students in sex acts failed to derail a proposed out-of-court settlement between the embattled Orange Unified School District board of trustees and the organizers of a high school gay support group.

Seeking to thwart a costly federal lawsuit over its ban of El Modena High School's Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA), the board on Sept. 7 reluctantly enacted new regulations that allow gay-support groups to meet, subject to parental approval.

The new rules would ban sex talk at any student-club meeting. But that didn't cut down on the sex talk at the school board meeting—from adults both on and off the board. Indeed, the rhetoric of the anti-GSA forces was so graphic that the mainstream media ignored it in their reports of the settlement.

With high school students sitting in the audience, Donna Sigalas, a vocal opponent of El Modena High's GSA and a member of Orange-based Parents' Rights USA (www.parentsrightsusa.com), offered board members a litany of sex acts homosexuals purportedly engage in—acts she believes the trustees encourage by allowing gay-support clubs.

Exhibit A in Sigalas' case was her claim that "public school teachers were fired after they were caught red-handed" at a state-sponsored Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educators Network (GLSEN) conference in Boston "instructing GSA club members as young as 12 years old in homosexual practices such as fisting, oral sex, sodomy and even promoting adult-child sex."

GSA supporters in the audience looked surprised, with one—David C. Codell, a civil-rights attorney who helped cobble together the settlement—barely suppressing a smirk.

Warning that California's education authorities may copy what she considers Massachusetts' pro-gay programs in schools, Sigalas added, "We're losing local control." Parents, she said, do not want GSAs and "homosexual instruction that teaches children to embrace behavior that statistics prove can lead to premature death."

Fisting seemed to be on the minds of many. Martin Jacobson, one of two trustees to oppose the new rules, echoed Sigalas. He wondered if a proposed state law on diversity and nondiscrimination awaiting Governor Gray Davis' signature will let teachers use "supplemental resources" on sexual orientation. The professorial Jacobson pointed specifically to material he claimed was used in Massachusetts "to teach kids how to engage in oral sex, anal sex and fisting."

Seated in the audience, GSA cofounder Heather Zetin, 16, covered her mouth as she broke out in giggles. From the podium, Jacobson warned, "The goal is to legitimize homosexual behavior. . . . The battle is for the minds of children."

But efforts to derail the settlement failed. Stone-faced board members, who just months ago had unanimously voted to ban the gay-support group and who now faced the likelihood of spending more than $1 million in legal fees if the case continued, promptly voted 5-2 to enact new rules allowing such groups.

After the meeting, Sigalas told the Weekly that she spoke explicitly about gay sex because of the "risk to children. I was only stating what GLSEN's activities have been in Massachusetts."

Sigalas says she believes GLSEN (www.glsen.org) is behind El Modena High School's GSA. But the club's cofounders have testified in court that they started the alliance on their own without knowing GLSEN even existed. An Orange County judge confirmed their claim.

Luis Torres, GLSEN's Orange County chairman, dismissed Sigalas' comments as the rants of a "desperate person at the end of her rope."

"This is really kind of a red herring," Torres said. "She's a very scary individual. I hear more things about sex coming out of her than anybody else."

Torres, an openly gay teacher at Marco Forster Middle School in San Juan Capistrano, said he knew nothing about the Boston GLSEN conference.

But outside the board meeting, Sigalas' Parents' Rights USA handed out what they said was a copy of the program from the Boston conference and a quotation, purportedly from a conference presenter: "Fisting (forcing one's entire hand into another person's rectum or vagina) often gets a bad rap. . . . (It's) an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with . . . (and) to put you into an exploratory mode."

Parents' Rights USA generously made copies available to the public.

 
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