The Unexpected Things SF Gay Newspapers Say About Prop V

jrotc-thumb.jpgBy Ashley Harrell

If you're still thinking about how to vote on V -- the ballot measure that would recommend reinstating the JROTC, now being phased-out in seven of San Francisco's public high schools -- you may want to take a last look at the positions of the city's gay newspapers. The Bay Area Reporter and the San Francisco Bay Times, which both serve San Francisco's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, have indicated that Prop V is a more complicated issue than anti-military lefties would like voters to believe. The Bay Area Reporter even endorsed it for chrissake.

That's notable because one big reason board of education members Mark Sanchez and Eric Mar purportedly axed JROTC in the first place was out of respect for gays, who are not part of the JROTC staff hiring pool (it's composed of former military officers who have been subjected to the "don't ask, don't tell" mandate).

And yet, here's the endorsement from The Bay Area Reporter:

"This is not about discrimination against gays in the military. Nor is it about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We are strongly against both. This is about denying students and parents the right to chose to participate in this very popular leadership training program. We are not about taking away rights in San Francisco, and students should not have to suffer because the executive branch of our federal government is run by morons."

San Francisco Bay Times publisher/editor Kim Corsaro says that for weeks she wrestled with V, and her contrasting thoughts can be read here, in an early editorial on Prop 8, and then in her recent decision: No on V.

From the Prop 8 editorial:

When it comes to certain so-called "progressive" issues… OK, I'll name one that's on everyone's minds in San Francisco: JROTC - in this election cycle considered a progressive litmus test. But that turns a blind eye to the fact the JROTC is one of the few legs up offered to African-American youths in the city (not to mention it is widely valued in the Chinese community). Often, progressives completely ignore the desires and needs of the African-American community, and put our "progressive" agenda first. But how can we call our political positions progressive if they only include the belief systems of middle class white people?

And here's her October 30 endorsement: No on V.

The fact is, JROTC is a pipeline for military service. The claim in San Francisco is that most of its JROTC students go on to college, not into the military. Then perhaps the school board needs to prioritize a similar alternative which is not militaristic in nature. Bay Times recommends No on Prop V. But it’s important to remember that we don’t exist in a vacuum. The campaign against V has not readily addressed the concerns in the African-American and Chinese communities in particular that support JROTC as one of few viable options for their kids. The campaign can’t end if V is defeated. Our next step has to be to establish something better for our youth.

And that's really the biggest question. Is San Francisco's school district really capable of coming up with something better or even equal to JROTC that the district can afford and quickly implement? I'm sorry, but I refuse to count on Student Emergency Response Volunteers (SERV), the recently approved JROTC replacement elective quickly thrown together to sway the vote.

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