The people who want to repeal California's new law requiring teaching of LGBT history are "extremists" who persecute gays, says Roland Palencia, head of Equality California.
Palencia's organization hopes to keep the group "Stop SB 48" from collecting 504,760 valid signatures from registered California voters by mid-October.
The signatures would force a voter referendum on the teaching law, also known as Senate Bill 48, on next June's ballot.
California law requires that social-studies curriculum include information on many different minority groups, but LGBT people were just added to the list this year.
In signing SB 48, Gov. Jerry Brown said, "History should be honest."
"I think that one of the things that we're going to take on is defining them (the opponents)," Palencia said Aug. 25 in a telephone interview with five journalists.
"Who gets to paint whom?" he asked. "We want to start engaging the conversation about painting them in the corner about how dangerous these people are to the people of California, and really expose their agenda -- how these campaigns are persecution. ... We need to define them as the extremists that they are."
Palencia said that despite the opponents' rhetoric in the new campaign -- and in the 2008 campaign to re-ban same-sex marriage in California -- schoolchildren are not harmed by hearing about the existence of gay and lesbian people.
Indeed, it is people who want to ban gay issues from schools who "are a danger to children and families," he said.
EQCA has suggested that inclusive teaching about LGBT history will reduce anti-gay bullying in schools.
On the same telephone call, EQCA's communications director, Rebekah Orr, said the opposition is using "the same sound bites they've been playing for 20 years."
Reminded that those old sound bites seem to work, Orr said: "We are going to have a richer set of input in terms of research and how to move communities and speak to them in culturally competent ways."
"We don't have a silver bullet on the children (meme)," she acknowledged. "We have no illusions about the monumental task before us. ... We're going to need to do much more robust pieces of research, and we will not be able to say anything definitive, certainly, until we're done with that."
EQCA's Andrea Shorter said on the call that signature-gathering on the repeal referendum is taking place "within their base."
"Their activities are largely behind the closed door of their churches," Shorter said.
EQCA and other groups have launched a website to protect SB 48 at faireducationaction.com. The other side's site is stopsb48.com.