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Oz Reborn

Looks like Dorothy wasn’t dreaming after all.

Oz does exist, and is constantly expanding its territory. Just follow the yellow-brick road of tolerance.

But at one spot along the road, at San Leandro High School in San Leandro, Calif., Oz is facing a few construction delays. The manufacturing of Oz in San Leandro began simply and easily enough when the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance student club (most high schools, both public and Catholic, have one these days), with the aid of the school’s “gay” art teacher, designed a poster that bears a rainbow flag, pink triangles, and the slogan: “This is a safe place to be who you are,” to be hung in every classroom at the school, by order of the San Leandro Unified School District.

Conflict ensued when five teachers at the school refused to display the posters “because they say homosexuality violates their religious beliefs, Principal Amy Furtado said” (San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 25). To add to the plot, school district officials require the displaying of the poster as “an effort to comply with state laws requiring schools to ensure students’ safety and curb discrimination and harassment.” Oz must be built!

At first, Principal Furtado waxed wistful: “We are a diverse staff. We have teachers who are active in their churches, and we respect their beliefs.” Ah, respect. Ain’t it grand! Furtado, according to the Chronicle, intends to resolve the conflict through “private conversations” and “faculty discussions about the underlying message of the posters, which is to promote tolerance” (Chronicle, Jan. 26). Respect and tolerance. What a thrilling combo! How magnanimous of Principal Furtado to realize that respect for religious beliefs falls under the panorama of “tolerance.”

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