The Schoolfield Of Hard Knocks
At News 8 Austin, as at KVUE-24, there was a rushed search for a point of view opposing the possibility of AISD providing Out Youth information to teens. According to education reporter Phil Kahn, his assignment editor said, "I know a Republican who's running for State Board of Education. Let's try him." They phoned Bob Schoolfield, a man with three degrees, including a doctorate, all in the science and engineering fields.
Schoolfield doesn't have children in AISD. He lives in the Eanes ISD, and his children attend the private Hyde Park Baptist School. But he accepted the News 8 Austin interview request because he thought it would help his campaign. (An April 11 runoff will determine if Schoolfield, or opponent Cynthia Thornton, will challenge Democrat Donna Howard in November for the District 10 seat.)
Prior to enrolling his children at Hyde Park, Schoolfield's wife home-schooled the children -- with his help, he claims -- hence his right to have "home school educator" on his résumé, which he does. After four or five years of home schooling, says Schoolfield, his wife told him, "no more." So they placed their children first in Legacy Oaks Christian School, for which he serves on the board of directors, and then in Hyde Park.
"I think I have as much right to run for the State Board, since I pay taxes," he says. Schoolfield, who says he manages a family trust, also serves as president of Austin Children's Education Opportunity Foundation, which he describes as a public charity he founded with two friends. Eight years ago, he explains, the three men donated $20,000 each and began providing $1,000 scholarships for children attending private schools. Asked if these are primarily Christian schools, Schoolfield responds with a negative, saying that the majority are Catholic schools. Asked if News 8 Austin fairly represented his opinions, Schoolfield says, "Not really. That was part of it. A very minor part."
Schoolfield says he has two concerns about Out Youth materials being in the schools. The first, he says, is his medical concern that News 8 aired -- that male homosexual behavior has been proven to be medically dangerous and the proof is AIDS. Schoolfield emphasizes several times that he is talking about male homosexual behavior. When I point out to Schoolfield that AIDS is spreading fastest in the straight community, not the gay community, he is stunned silent. "Well," he finally says, "maybe I'm misinformed on this." He goes on to explain that his statement is based simply on his concern for children. "I don't consider myself a medical expert," he says. And he begins to talk about percentage growth, how to compute it, that perhaps AIDS is spreading faster in the straight community while in actuality there are more cases in the gay community. "The question," he says, "is what is the absolute growth."
He adds, "I would obviously be concerned about everyone's susceptibility to AIDS. From my cursory knowledge, I wouldn't want to encourage dangerous behavior." So, I ask, since heterosexual sex can spread AIDS, should such literature be excluded from the schools? Again, Schoolfield is silent for a moment before responding that heterosexual behavior should be described in a way that doesn't encourage such behavior. He stresses that he is stepping aside from his own parental values and trying to look at the situation from a "hopefully unbiased medical perspective."
From a medical point of view, I say, lesbian sex is the safest around. So should information about that be made available to students? Once again, Schoolfield pauses. "I'm excluding lesbian sex," he says eventually, "because to my knowledge that doesn't have a medical danger." He explains that he does not believe lesbian sex is psychologically healthy, but then says that if information about sexuality -- homosexual or heterosexual -- does not encourage medically dangerous behavior, "from a medical standpoint, I couldn't object to it."
Schoolfield proceeds to his second concern, which he says News 8 ignored. That concern is that parents will object to Out Youth material being in the schools. If he were superintendent of AISD, says Schoolfield, the first thing he would do would be to go to the schools and poll the parents to see if they want Out Youth materials there. He then backs up and says he would first analyze the issue from a medical perspective -- and here, in a sudden aside, he notes that nowhere in the Out Youth material did he see where it encouraged "that behavior."
Schoolfield refuses to call homosexuality a sin because "sin, right now, is a lightning rod word," but he easily states that homosexuality "isn't God's design. It is not God's best." After stating what he believes is God's best, Schoolfield readily adds that he believes there is a genetic predisposition toward homosexual desires. "But that doesn't translate into a license to behave that way." He adds, "I think that every man [meaning male] has a genetic predisposition to be promiscuous, to be an adulterer." And just as a male must control that predisposition, he explains, the homosexual must control his predisposition.
Schoolfield is advised that statistically more and more women are cheating on their lovers, with the stats climbing closer to that of cheating males. Once again, he is silent.