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Fundamentalist Group Seeking to Defeat Korenstein

Times Staff Writer

An Orange County-based fundamentalist group is seeking to defeat Los Angeles school board incumbent Julie Korenstein in the April election because of her support of counseling for gay and lesbian students and the dispensing of birth-control devices by two school health clinics.

The California Coalition of Traditional Values is opposed to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Project 10, the gay counseling program, as well as the district’s two school-based health clinics that, among other services, dispense birth-control devices and family-planning information, said Bill Jones, a spokesman for the group’s Van Nuys office. Korenstein, along with the board majority, voted for both programs.

“We are appealing to that broad base of people who call themselves Christians,” Jones said. “Homosexuality and abortion are the two biggest issues that we are most alarmed about.”

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Many members of the coalition, which recently opened the Van Nuys office, worked for the presidential campaign of Pat Robertson, support issues such as prayer in public schools and would like to see an end to legalized abortion, Jones said. The group’s goal is to educate Christian voters about those issues and to encourage them to vote in local elections, such as the Los Angeles school board race, he said.

Along with Korenstein, East Valley incumbent Roberta Weintraub and West Los Angeles representative Alan Gershman are also seeking reelection.

Korenstein’s primary challenger, Barbara Romey, said that she has spoken with members of the coalition and will seek their endorsement. “I believe that people want a return to traditional values,” she said.

Romey opposes the district’s counseling program for teen-age homosexuals, as well as the district’s two health clinics, including the one at San Fernando High School. She said she believes most West Valley voters are also opposed to the programs.

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Korenstein said she has not spoken with representatives of the coalition but would not align herself with such a group. “My constituency would not support that type of philosophy; we are talking about a fundamentalist philosophy,” she said.

One of Korenstein’s campaign managers, Barbara Grover, said the fundamentalist supporters of Robertson are seen by many Jewish voters as anti-Semitic. Grover said that support by the coalition would hurt instead of help a candidate in the West Valley.

Pass Out Information

Jones said that the group hopes to pass out information about school board candidates to Valley voters through congregations such as the Church On the Way, a Four-Square church in Van Nuys with about 6,000 members, and Van Nuys First Baptist Church.

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The Rev. Jess Moody, pastor of 8,000-member Van Nuys First Baptist, said that although he agrees with the aims of the coalition, he does not allow information regarding candidates to be circulated on church property.

Coalition founder Louis Sheldon, an Anaheim minister and veteran campaigner against gay rights, last week lobbied unsuccessfully to stop policy changes in the state’s teaching of science. Over the objections of Sheldon, the State Board of Education agreed to allow only the teaching of tested theories that explain natural phenomena and that are based on scientific evidence.

Sheldon said he objected to the teaching of evolution as fact. Critics said that the previous state policy was ambiguous and that it was interpeted by some teachers to allow the teaching of creationism in science classes.

In the past, Sheldon has lectured against homosexuality and has sought unsuccessfully to prohibit a gay pride festival in Long Beach.

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