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Having just moved to Sandy from San Jose and observing the debate on sexual lifestyle support groups in public schools, I am struck by its similarity with two recent California school disputes.

In one, a minority group wished to have Huck Finn's offensive language removed from the curriculum. In the other, a group wished to end school Halloween activities because the holiday imagery is Satanic.The biggest similarity is that each issue polarizes those involved - each side believes it is "right" and the other "wrong."

No respect is given to the other point of view, and name-calling ensues. The cries of "homophobe and bigot" in this debate ring as loudly and as ugly as those of "racist, anti-American, evil and hypersensitive" did in California.

The press inflames the polarization by reporting the extremes and conducting polls that suggest that there are only two options. Each side wants to impose its position on the other through law or policy. The religious should recall that God has wisely chosen to force none to be righteous.

Regardless of the outcome, the schools lose the respect of some of the students and parents which ultimately makes them less able to teach.

Tragically, public schools are increasingly required to teach political positions by both the right and left wings. As political teaching replaces academic skills, we must question the wisdom of allowing government to determine what our children learn and do not learn.

John R. Pack