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Roberti Urges Governor to Sign AIDS Film Bill

September 06, 1987|DANIEL M. WEINTRAUB | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Warning that ignorance about AIDS caused recent strife in Florida, Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) on Saturday urged Gov. George Deukmejian to sign legislation requiring that videotapes about the deadly disease be distributed for viewing by California's junior and senior high school students.

"One of the greatest battles we face in our fight against AIDS is ignorance," Roberti said in a radio address. "Public education about AIDS is vital. It can help eliminate unwarranted fear and panic and help us to deal with the disease in a rational manner."

Roberti said Californians should take note of the plight of the Clifford Ray family of Arcadia, Fla., who were shunned by their community after their three sons, all hemophiliacs, were infected with the AIDS virus through blood transfusions. The family's house was gutted by an unexplained fire shortly after the Rays obtained a court order permitting their sons to attend public school.

"We have all seen what ignorance about AIDS can do to a community," Roberti said.

Favored in Both Houses

The legislation, authored by state Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara), would require state schools Supt. Bill Honig and Health Department Director Kenneth W. Kizer to choose a videotape to be distributed as part of an AIDS education program for all students in grades 7 through 12. The bill was passed by the Assembly on a 44-29 vote and by the Senate on a 30-4 vote.

The measure was bitterly opposed by most Republicans in the Assembly, who argued that it did not allow parents sufficient opportunity to prevent their children from seeing the videotape. Assembly GOP Leader Pat Nolan of Glendale also charged that the tapes would give students a "how-to lesson in homosexual sex."

The bill would require that parents be notified before the tapes are shown and be allowed to remove their children from class that day. The video would be a frank explanation of the sexually transmitted disease, stressing abstinence as the primary means of prevention.

Aides to Deukmejian have said that he is inclined to veto the bill because it does not give the state Board of Education the authority to select the video. But Deukmejian told reporters Friday in Los Angeles that he has no position on the bill. He said he did not have time to review the issue last week because he was preoccupied with controversies over efforts to conform the state's tax system to the federal code and attempts to have the world's largest atom smasher built in California.

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