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World Observer Research and Policy Position: Education Series

The education research article of the month (April 2006), "Dealing with Sexuality and Religious Freedom Issues in Public Schools," provides information and guidelines for dealing with issues of sexuality, diversity, and religious freedom in public schools pertinent to educational leaders, teachers, parents, and others involved in these controversial issues.

 

 

Dealing with Sexuality and Religious Freedom Issues

 in Public Schools

 

Common Sense, Common Ground, Common Good

 

Kym Anderson-Wilhite

 

Introduction:  Multiple Perspectives on Sexuality in Public Schools

 

One of the most daunting responsibilities and challenging tasks of educational leaders today is to effectively address the conflicts that exist between those seeking to meet the academic and social needs of homosexual students and those antagonistic toward these efforts.  In recent years, many public schools have increasingly become the center of attention in the escalating debates over homosexuality in American society.  Many of the debates arise from ignorance or misunderstanding, beginning with the terms “gay” and “homosexual” that mean one thing to Evangelical Christians, for example, and quite another to homosexual males and lesbian females.  We use them connotatively as generic and all-inclusive to refer to the various groups whose needs must be met in public school—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual, and queer.  Those needs will be addressed sometimes as part of the larger whole and sometimes individually, the latter because while all may share the “minority identity” there are significant differences among those within that group identity.  

 

            Conflicts involving sexual orientation in the curriculum, student clubs, speech codes, and other areas of the controversy divide communities, generate lawsuits, and disrupt the educational mission of schools.  Upon initial consideration the divide may seem to be between two opposing groups--gay and anti-gay--that differ, disagree, collide, and then become conflictive and antagonistic.  Intervening in such a circumstance is difficult but not insurmountable since it involves bringing only two groups together.  However, in the course of this research it became apparent that the task of educational leaders in addressing this situation is made more complex because recent pertinent studies of the past few months bring to light additional considerations that need to be included in deliberations of policies, programs, and activities to achieve social justice.  The additional elements that must be considered include the differences between and among gay students and the activist adult gays who advocate for them, “religious” and “non-religious” gays, practicing and “ex-gays,” and other elements that make the issue more complex and the mission of educational leaders more daunting and challenging—but not impossible.  For effective change to take place and be successful it must address the multiple perspectives of sexuality in public schools.

 

Addressing “Real World” Perspectives to Achieve Justice and Inclusion in Public Schools

 

            One example of variances in real world perspectives that complicate matters for educational leaders as well as teachers and students is illustrated in recent news of the Florida Supreme Court approving a marriage amendment.  A religious legal organization refers to it as a “marriage protection” amendment (Liberty Counsel, March 23, 2006) while a gay group calls it an “anti-gay” amendment (365Gay.com, March 23, 2006).  Both of them evoke the agendas of two opposing groups and reveal a generational divergence since many of today’s gay students would consider the amendment neither “protection” nor “anti-gay” but merely a “marriage amendment” (Cloud, Time).  Another difficulty presented by the world outside the school is media coverage of incidents such as the one reported in a Florida newspaper on 14 March, 2006.  A 25-year-old woman was arrested after she was found having sex with a 14-year-old girl in the back of her car. The woman was charged with molestation of a minor, lewd and lascivious exhibition, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  The report also says police found beer in the woman’s car.  The girl and the suspect knew each other for about a year (“Police”).  Those resisting changes for social justice in the schools seize upon such items to bolster their suppositions that the “gay agenda” leads to behavior that is detrimental to society.  Educators involved in the diversity and tolerance process must be prepared to discuss such points with all stakeholders calmly and rationally in the best interests of achieving a common-ground framework for change.   

Other real world perspectives that influence the process of change include determining if students are reflecting their own attitudes and beliefs or those of individuals with specific agendas from outside the school, and sometimes even from within the school.  A young man is stopped by school officials before he can enter school grounds because his T-shirt is critical of the school’s teachings on homosexuality (“T-Shirt,” ADF).  On the other hand, a young girl with family problems is told by her school counselor to “come out” as a lesbian (“Pink Triangle,” ADF).  One wonders if the boy was expressing his own attitude or that of his parents or church and if the girl was, in fact, a lesbian and if so, was the counselor thinking of the student’s best interests or advancing his/her own agenda with the outing advice.

 

Some contend the students are being used as pawns by adult gay activists and argue that school is no place for such volatile issues.  But while the American Civil Liberties Union, the Gay Straight Alliance Network and other organizations are involved in lawsuits and political activism, officials with these groups say they are providing legal and organizational help to students who are picking their own battles.  A lesbian teen sued educators to defend her right to kiss her girlfriend on campus.  "Before, it was more that 'I have an identity and I don't want to be harassed because of it,' but now it's, 'This is who I am, these are my attractions, desires, arousals and love affairs, and I have a right to them.'  That subtle shift is a very important one because it reflects a sense of empowerment" reported Savin-Williams, researcher and author of studies on gay teens (“Gay Teens,” LA Times, March 12, 2006).

Real world realities for educators seeking change also comes from ignorance, misunderstandings and “good intentions gone bad” or misdirected.  For example, a bill in Virginia sought to clarify that school boards can ban extracurricular groups from using school facilities if the groups encourage or promote "sexual activity (emphasis added) by unmarried minor students" (“Virginia,” Washington Post, March 3, 2006).  Such a bill would be a step in the right direction for gay and non-gay students alike since the school should not promote sexual activity among any minors.  But the bill was killed in the state senate, no doubt because it was likely presented by and poorly worded by anti-gay activists who misunderstood the nature of the “extracurricular group” which was probably a gay-straight alliance.  In Boulder, Colorado school officials denied the formation of a Bible club as not related to curriculum, while at the same time allowing a Gay/Straight Alliance club as being part of the health education curriculum.  In both of the preceding examples the faction that “lost the battle” will no doubt be resentful and become even more resistant to change in the public school.  Both scenarios could likely have been avoided if all parties concerned had been involved in rational and civil dialogues designed to impart information, share beliefs and attitudes, and come to common agreements about school policies concerning the needs of all students regardless of sexual orientation (Marshall & Oliva, 146-147, 157).

 

.

 

The following article is one example of why there is resistance to change:  extremism on both sides.  In this case, the radical activism of gay advocates going to private school campuses uninvited and going to religious conferences uninvited to protest merely serves to exacerbate an already conflictive atmosphere.  It is informative to note that the title of the article, from a religious web site, uses the terms “conflict” and “lobby”:   “Our Inevitable Conflict with the Homosexual Lobby.”  The article includes the following remarks:

Union University President David S. Dockery winsomely prepared the campus for the uninvited visit in a March 1 letter to students and friends of the school.  “At Union University we believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings, which is rightly expressed only within the lifelong covenant commitment of marriage between one man and one woman. We reject homosexual practice, believing it to be contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within the Union community. … At the same time, we strongly renounce any unjust reprisal or harm against homosexual persons that would violate the common rights enjoyed by all American. We do, however, reject the notion of special rights for such persons whether they be attempts to make same-sex couples legally married or to appoint gay men as bishops.”  Dockery added: “The issue of homosexuality is not an issue that we have chosen to highlight, nor would we have chosen this issue. But the Soulforce Equality Ride to Union University later this month has pushed this issue to the forefront ….”  Soulforce is not new to Southern Baptists. The homosexual activist group has in recent years repeatedly protested at the annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention, including a very public attempt to disrupt the 2002 annual meeting during the president’s address, resulting in the arrest of 50 protestors.

And from the same article there is an example of resistance to change in school culture, but this resistance is to freedom of religious expression and also reflects the ignorance of a school principal citing the fallacious “separation of church and state” that does not appear in the US Constitution nor in the Bill of Rights:

Here’s how The Miami Herald reported it March 10:

“On the first day, a few students talked about supporting gay rights, and no one paid much attention.

“On the second day, a school counselor talked about respecting each other, and no one paid much attention.

“On the third day, a few students spoke against homosexuality and a teacher said it is ‘wrong according to the Bible’ – and people noticed very much.”

Miami Sunset Senior High School business technology teacher Donna Reddick offered those politically incorrect views in a student television project which was broadcast to the entire student body. As a result, she has been the subject of unwelcome media attention – including stories on at least two South Florida television newscasts, an appallingly unfair bashing by a Herald columnist, and letters to the editor calling for “severe disciplinary action” – and she is now under professional scrutiny by her principal and district officials investigating whether she violated School Board policies.

Sunset Principal Lucia Cox told the Herald that Reddick’s views may be contrary to two rules because “We separate church and state” and “We don’t discriminate against sexual preference.” The television project students told Reddick they were seeking “the non-Christian view of homosexuality versus the Christian view of homosexuality,” and the teacher may not have been told that her comments would be aired to the entire student body, according to Cox.  “Clearly there was a failure to appropriately and completely supervise this assignment, and the consequence for gay students to feel perhaps threatened and/or that the broadcast has encouraged a hostile school environment,” fretted Art Teitelbaum, southern area director for the Anti-Defamation League.

For homosexual activists and their sympathizers, the student project would have been completely unremarkable had it stopped after day two. It’s apparently not a problem for Christian students to “feel perhaps threatened” or to engender a “hostile school environment” toward those who oppose homosexuality, but it’s absolutely unacceptable when homosexual students may hear views opposing their immoral practice."

 

Fear of intimidation by activist groups and ignorance of the law—correct interpretations of the First Amendment, for example—are other aspects of the “real world” that must be confronted prior to or concurrently with efforts to effect change within the school environment.  Obviously there are many groups and individuals, a multitude of perspectives, a variety of attitudes, an abundance of misinformation, and rampant misunderstanding leading to non-productive extremism regarding sexuality in the public schools.  Pursuing change in society and in the public schools that shape society is a worthy endeavor.

  

Changing Attitudes and Practices in Public Schools

 

A North Carolina school offered a ‘New Gay Teenager’ Seminar that met with parent concern and legal intervention claiming that “a sexually oriented program and lessons violated North Carolina law” (“Not in Our School,” ADF, Feb. 24, 2006).  Changing policies, practices, and attitudes within the school first requires communicating with, informing, clarifying content, purpose, and goals, and finding support from those outside the school.  Useful resources for changing policies and practices in public schools comes from documents issued by the Los Angeles school district entitled “Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students--Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination” which is made available by the Capitol Resource Institute and states, in part, “All persons, including students, have a right to privacy; this includes keeping a student’s transgender status private. Therefore, school personnel should not disclose a student’s transgender status to others, including parents, and/or other school personnel, unless there is a specific 'need to know'" (LA Unified School Dist., REF-1557).

As public schools cope with conflicts over homosexuality, they can use strategies for change that were developed jointly by conservative Christians and gay advocates and included in the document “Public Schools and Sexual Orientation:  A First Amendment Framework for Finding Common Ground.”  Leaders of those groups have agreed on guidelines for how educators, parents and teachers should deal with any aspect of school life involving sexual orientation.  The guidelines are meant to be a First Amendment framework for finding common ground--essentially, a way to get people talking instead of screaming at each other.  Schools are encouraged to form a task force of people with divergent views, agree on ground rules for civil debate, understand the First Amendment and state law, keep parents informed, and ensure students don't go to school in fear.   Leaders from both sides hope that the guide is a breakthrough, since the lack of such basic civility is often what leaves community members feeling angry, shut out, and ready to fight.  The accord comes from those who are typically the ones fighting--conservative Christians and gay leaders.  "This is not about compromising convictions," said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, which helped develop the framework.  "This is about finding ways to work and live together as American citizens."  Groups at polar ends of the same-sex debate--the Christian Educators Association International and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network--helped write the guidelines. They will promote them to the hundreds of thousands of people they represent.  The superintendents who run the nation's schools have also endorsed the guidance, as has a prominent group of teachers and curriculum specialists. Finn Laursen, executive director of the Christian association, said his members are not straying from their beliefs in Biblical principles and "one man, one woman" relationships. Rather, he said, the point is to make sure those views are included in school decisions (“Unlikely Alliance”).

GLSEN, or the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network, announced its partnership with Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) to bring GLSEN’s Training of Trainers program to cities across the United States. The Training of Trainers (TOT) program seeks to give allies in education a more in-depth understanding of how to address anti-LGBT bias in their schools and to make them safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  "We know that teachers, counselors, and administrators often do not intervene in incidences of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling and harassment," said MCC’s Executive Director Dr. Cindi Love.  "Sometimes educators simply do not know what to do; through these trainings we want to encourage, enlighten, and empower them to make change."

           

     Since the framework provides a rational, reasonable, and fair strategy for accomplishing change for the benefit of our students, we are including extensive content from it:

Public Schools and Sexual Orientation:  A First Amendment Framework for Finding Common Ground

The process for dialogue recommended in the guide has been endorsed by:

American Association of School Administrators

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

Bridge Builders

Christian Educators Association International

First Amendment Center

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

The drafting of the document was facilitated by the First Amendment Center (www.firstamendmentcenter.org) and Bridge Builders (www.bridge-builders.org), which provide mediation services to help schools and communities find common ground on the issues addressed in the guide.

 

“The rights and responsibilities of the First Amendment provide the civic framework within which we are able to debate our differences, to understand one another, and to forge public policies that serve the common good in public education.  On one side, many argue that public schools should not deal with homosexuality at all, believing that such discussions should be left entirely to parents.  On the other side are those who contend that the issue for schools is sexual orientation and identity, not sexual behavior. And they advocate school policies and practices that require school officials to deal with discrimination against gay and lesbian students.

Current efforts to legalize or ban same-sex unions in the courts, in legislatures and on ballot initiatives have only exacerbated the debate in schools and raised the stakes for public school officials. Every act by one side is seen as a hostile move by the other. A “Day of Silence” to promote awareness of discrimination against gays and lesbians is now followed by a “Day of Truth” to promote conservative religious views of homosexuality. A T-shirt proclaiming “Straight Pride” is worn to counter one professing “Gay Pride.”  

The role of school officials is to be fair, honest brokers of a dialogue that involves all stakeholders and seeks the common good.  Policy decisions about issues concerning sexual orientation should be made only after appropriate involvement of those affected by the decision and with due consideration for the rights of those holding dissenting views. Under the First Amendment, all sides have the right to express their points of view.

In some cases school officials mistakenly assume that they must choose sides in the debate over homosexuality – and that schools will promote the side they choose. Some are convinced that the only way to address this issue is to insist that one view be imposed on all students and parents. But too often this approach only provokes more conflict and solves nothing.

If schools are going to win the peace, it will not be by choosing a side and coercing others to accept it. When matters of conscience are at stake, this strategy is both unjust and counterproductive. It is possible, however, to find areas of agreement if school officials create a climate of mutual respect and honest dialogue.  It would serve us all to remember that the core mission of public schools is to prepare young people for citizenship in a democratic society. This means, first and foremost, maintaining a school environment that respects the rights of students to free speech and free exercise of religion. 

A school is both safe and free when students, parents, educators and all members of the school community commit to addressing their religious and political differences with civility and respect. A safe school is free of bullying and harassment. And a free school is safe for student speech even about issues that divide us.

First Amendment ground rules:

No ideological or religious consensus is possible – or perhaps even desirable – in our diverse society. But a civic agreement across differences is not only possible but absolutely essential for civil dialogue. The place to begin is to agree on the guiding principles of rights, responsibilities and respect that flow from the First Amendment. These “three Rs” provide a shared framework within which Americans are able to negotiate conflicts over public policy in schools.

 

            Rights. Religious liberty and freedom of religious or faith-based expression are inalienable rights for all guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The very purpose of the First Amendment is to safeguard individual rights from actions of majorities and governments. Every effort should be made in public schools to protect these rights for all students and parents.

            Responsibilities. As American citizens, we have a civic responsibility to respect these rights for others, including those with whom we deeply disagree. Rights are best guarded

Respect. Conflict and debate are vital to democracy. Yet if controversies about sexual orientation and schools are to advance the best interests of the disputants and the nation, then how we debate, and not only what we debate, is critical. All parties involved in public schools should agree to debate one another with civility and respect, and should strive to be accurate and fair.”

The above is the first step in the process.  If all parties can agree to the framework outlined above then the second step is to find common ground:

“Although individual districts use a variety of strategies, successful school and community leaders adopt the following principles and practices:

1.  Create a ‘common ground task force,’ appointed by the school board and consisting of representatives with a wide range of community views.

2.  Agree on the civic ground rules and understand current law. A good first step is to make the First Amendment principles of rights, responsibilities and respect the ground rules for the discussion. Then, come to a shared understanding of what current laws and regulations in your state and district may say about the issue of sexual orientation in general and in public schools specifically. The laws of each state (which vary widely and change frequently) are both the starting point and framework for addressing sexual orientation in local schools.

3.  Include all stakeholders. In public schools, there must be room for people who see the issue from a variety of perspectives in an environment that calls for everyone to respect the right of others to hold their views. Democratic citizenship does not require a compromise of our deepest convictions. But at times it will require us to work with others who may hold views contrary to our own.

4.  Think outside the box of ‘us vs. them’ politics. As deeply as we may feel about this issue, we must refrain from using the public schools to impose our views on others. Advocacy groups play an important role in a democracy. But public schools have a very different role. Schools serve the entire community and, in so doing, cultivate a common good that includes us all. 

5.  Listen to all sides.

6.  Work for agreements on civic principles and safe schools.

7.  Provide educational opportunities for administrators, teachers, parents and students in the First Amendment principles of rights, responsibilities and respect. When people understand their constitutional rights and civic duties, they are better prepared to engage in civil dialogue and work together for a learning environment that is safe and free for all students.”  I would make this the first activity of step 2 instead of the last.

 

In an educational leadership position the following are some of the steps that might be taken to achieve common ground for diversity, tolerance, safety, and the general welfare of faculty, students, and staff.  I borrow generously from the “Framework”:

1.         Take seriously complaints of name-calling, harassment and discrimination regardless of the reason. Do not dismiss it as playground teasing or tell the student or staff to “toughen up.” Investigate the complaint and intervene directly when it has merit, making clear that such behavior is unacceptable on the public school campus. The public school environment cannot be a hostile place to study or work.

2.         Assure parents and students that the school district will listen carefully, be fair to all parties, and try hard to avoid choosing sides in the broader national conflict.

3.         Don’t be afraid to talk openly about these issues. Some districts may seek to avoid controversy by trying to fly under the radar when dealing with this complicated issue. Whether it is students asking to form a gay-straight alliance, a new textbook introduced into the curriculum, or a new video adopted for family-life education, parents don’t like surprises. When it finally becomes known, as it always does, parents will lose trust with a district that will not be straightforward with them and will respect the one that is.

4.         To the extent practical, strive to keep community discussion a local one. This doesn’t mean that outside groups and individuals can’t be helpful facilitators or resources, and some perspectives that are important to the discussion may not be well represented in my community. But neighbor-to neighbor dialogue works best when a local disagreement doesn’t become a national controversy.

5.         While my district will have to respond fairly and equitably to the variety of home environments of my students, it does not have to define family in the broader culture to do so. Family is a term often defined in state law and schools can acknowledge that various groups use it differently.

6.         Be careful not to discriminate against student clubs or expression simply because the political or religious message is unpopular or potentially offensive to some. Educators can and should require that all viewpoints be expressed in a respectful manner, but they may not exclude some views merely because they don’t agree with them. To do so constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.

One should also point out to the ACLU and activist groups on either side of the controversy engaged in filing lawsuits that civil local discussions leading to solutions are less costly, less divisive, and more effective than lawsuits or media propagandizing..

 

      An important recent article that may be useful in preparing policies and procedures for change is:  John Cloud, “The Battle over Gay Teens: What happens when you come out as a kid? How gay youths are challenging the right--and the left,” Time Oct. 10, 2005 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1112856-1,00.html

Advocates on either side of the current controversy are educators, parents, religious leaders, homosexual activists, and others who represent older generations and who view the issue from a very different perspective than that of our students.  A student responding to the Time article wrote:

“My generation seems to be more tolerant about homosexuality, but we are not in favor of gay marriage. Civil Unions, yes, but not gay marriage, and we are more pro-life and religious than Generation X and the Baby Boomers . . . we're both more tolerant and more conservative.”

Some view the gay/straight alliances as doing more harm than good.  Some of them try to achieve acceptance and tolerance by promoting homosexual behavior and attacking religious and non-homosexual groups, generating an antagonistic reaction from the part of the latter.  Another student wrote, “My high school has a GSA, but they posted anti-straight brochures, and were frowned down upon by the majority of my classmates.”

In 1997 there were approximately 100 gay-straight alliances (GSAs)--clubs for gay and gay-friendly kids--on U.S. high school campuses. Today there are at least 3,000 GSAs--nearly 1 in 10 high schools has one--according to the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN, say "glisten"), which registers and advises GSAs. In the 2004-05 academic year, GSAs were established at U.S. schools at the rate of three per day.

Even as adult activists bicker in court, young Americans--including many young conservatives--are becoming thoroughly, even nonchalantly, gay- positive. From young ages, straight kids are growing up with more openly bisexual, gay and sexually uncertain classmates.

Pertinent studies reviewed by the author of  The New Gay Teenager, Ritch Savin-Williams, who chairs Cornell's Human Development Department shed light on the issue:

Making homosexual life less lonely and less of an issue of perceived “abnormality” or confrontation, and so forth are books, magazines, and internet sites where “Gay boys can chat, vote for the Lord of the Rings character they would most like to date . . . learn how to have safe oral sex and ogle pictures of young men in their underwear . .

While the phrase "That's so gay" seems to have permanently entered the (straight) teen vernacular, at many schools it is now profoundly un-cool to be seen as anti-gay.

The preponderance of Savin-Williams' 20 years of research indicates that most gay kids today face an environment that's more uncertain than unwelcoming.  According to Kevin Jennings, a “deeply ideological 42-year-old” (thus, generation gap, generational difference, his perception, views, and resulting agenda derived from his experiences 25-30 years ago) might not resonate or be appropriate for today’s students.   To Jennings, who in 1990 founded a gay-teacher group that later morphed into GLSEN, many of the kids who start GSAs identify themselves as straight. Some will later come out, of course, but Jennings believes a majority of GSA members are heterosexuals who find anti-gay rhetoric as offensive as racism. "We're gonna win," says Jennings, speaking expansively of the gay movement, "because of what's happening in high schools right now ... This is the generation that gets it."

 

So the Christian right has found its strategy--inclusion, prayer, the promise of change--and the gay movement has found one--GSAs, scholarships, the promise of acceptance. But what of the kids themselves?  Gay adults are still figuring out how to deal with gay kids. The gay subculture, after all, had been an almost exclusively adult preserve until the relatively recent phenomena of gay adoption and out teens. Point scholar and Emory College junior Bryan Olsen, who turned 21 in August and has been out since he was 15, told me during the retreat, "It probably sounds anti-gay, but I think there are very few age-appropriate gay activities for a 14-, 15-year-old. There's no roller skating, bowling or any of that kind of thing ... It's Internet, gay porn, gay chats."

Marcel-Keyes says many of her problems have "nothing to do with my sexuality," she has struggled with self-mutilation--at the retreat, her arms bore scars from shoulder to wrist.

According to Savin-Williams, most gay kids are fairly ordinary. "Perhaps surprising to researchers who emphasize the suicidality, depression, victimization, prostitution, and substance abuse of gay youth, gay teenagers generally feel good about their same-sex sexuality," he writes. A 56-year-old gay man with a slightly elfish mien, Savin-Williams has interviewed some 350 kids with same-sex attractions, and he concludes that they "are more diverse than they are similar and more resilient than suicidal ... They're adapting quite well, thank you."  Today’s gay teen likes other boys, but that doesn't mean he is ready to enfold himself in a gay identity. "Today so many kids who are gay, they don't like Cher. They aren't part of the whole subculture," says Michael Glatze, 30, editor in chief of YGA Magazine. "They feel like they belong in their faith, in their families."  Increasingly, these kids are like straight kids," says Savin-Williams. "Straight kids don't define themselves by sexuality, even though sexuality is a huge part of who they are. Of course they want to have sex, but they don't say, 'It is what I am.'" He believes young gays are moving toward a "post-gay" identity. "Just because they're gay, they don't have to march in a parade.”  The political part is what worries Glatze. "I don't think the gay movement understands the extent to which the next generation just wants to be normal kids. The people who are getting that are the Christian right," he says.

Savin-Williams recalls counseling a kid who, after the third session, referred to his "partner." "And I said, 'Oh, you're gay.' And he said, 'No. I only fall in love with guys, but I'm not "gay." It doesn't have anything to do with me.' He saw being gay as leftist, radical."  Additional comments made by the author in response to emailed comments include:

 “One point the article tried to make is that the gay culture that lesbian and gay adults have formed over the last few decades doesn't necessarily make sense to a 14-year-old.  I think gay kids—and the evidence is on my side here—are going to come out. But I also think they could not care less about making ‘the LGBT lifestyle...more generally accepted.’  I think they want to be happy, period.”

 

 

 

Recent Articles on Homosexual Activism

and Religious Freedom in Public Education

 

Sexual Orientation: When Conflict Rules the School
Christian Post, 4.8.2006

Pro-Family Lawyer Criticizes Christian Educators' Collaboration With GLSEN
A Christian attorney is denouncing a new agreement reached between a homosexual advocacy group and the Christian Educators Association on how to deal with the issue of sexual orientation in public schools. Part 1

Family Advocate Denounces Pact Between Christians, Homosexual Activists
A pro-family activist says the Christian Educators Association International kowtowed to homosexuals by reaching an agreement with GLSEN on how to deal with the issue of sexual orientation in public schools. Part 2 of a two-part series

Educator Defends Guidelines for Dealing with Homosexuality in Schools
A psychology professor and anti-bullying expert is rejecting claims that the Christian Educators Association International caved in to pressure from homosexual activists by reaching an agreement with GLSEN on how to deal with the issue of sexual orientation in public schools.

Lesbian Sues Pro-Family Activists for Exposing Truth About Pro-Homosexual Event

Gay activists want to teach young children explicit homosexual sex acts without parental knowledge, consent, or interference.

A lesbian who was fired for her role in the notorious "Fistgate" conference at Tufts University has brought a civil suit against two Massachusetts pro-family activists who attended the 2000 conference and then proceeded to expose what went on at the pro-homosexual event. Many concerned parents learned about "Fistgate" and its sexually graphic content through the efforts of Massachusetts pro-family activists Brian Camenker and Scott Whiteman, who attended the "Teach-Out" specifically to bear witness to and gather evidence of what went on there. That is why the two men are now facing legal action, along with the Parents Rights Coalition, which is also named in the civil suit. Former state employee Margot Abels alleges Camenker and Whiteman violated her free-speech rights by tape-recording two workshops in which she instructed children as young as 12 years of age in how to engage in homosexual sex acts.  Camenker heads the pro-family group Article 8 Alliance.  Attorney Steve Crampton, chief counsel of the American Family Association  is representing Camenker in the case. A judge has set a July 10 trial date for the lesbian activist's lawsuit against Camenker, Whiteman, and the Parents Rights Coalition.

(Note:  GLSEN was involved in the "fisting" educational event in Mass.)

Another reason parents need school choice or we need major, sweeping, dramatic changes in government and public education is illustrated by the following.  Warning:  The link shows explicit  images and text from a gay "handbook" handed out to children in public schools in Massachusetts.  Are gay activists distributing this at schools your children attend?  Find out and take action!    Download of infamous "Little Black Book - Queer in the 21st Century" given to kids at Brookline High School, now available - make sure your public officials see this. Here.

‘Neutral’ School Agreement Is a Victory for Homosexual Activists
CWA, Linda Harvey, 4.6.2006

 

Radical Homosexuals in Massachusetts Continue the Fight against Concerned Parents
CWA, 4.5.2006

Schools Around The Country Consider New Policies On Religious Issues  Religion Clause Blog, 4.6.2006

California Senate Committee Passes GLBTQ Curriculum Bill; SB 1437
CWA, 4.6.2006

California Bill Would Force Schools to Support Homosexuality  Citizen Link, 4.5.2006

California: "Gay History to Become Mandatory"  ShortNews.com, 4.6.2006
California is the largest buyer of school books in the United States and as a result, will set the trend for other schools around the country.

California: "Bill Will Help Schools Teach About Gay and Transgendered People"
DailyBulletin.com, Kelly Rush, 4.6.2006

California: "Education Bill to Promote Gay Diversity in Schools"
OutinBakersfield.com, 4.6.2006

Comment:  In the above article titles on California notice how the use of one word or another expresses one's viewpoint and agenda--"forced" and "mandatory" in contrast to "help."  Educators and lawmakers are the appropriate authorities on academic core curricula but when it comes to views, family values, personal beliefs and the like parents should decide whether or not they want their children indoctrinated by activist agendas.

Pro-Family Lawyer Criticizes Christian Educators' Collaboration With GLSEN
A Christian attorney is denouncing a new agreement reached between a homosexual advocacy group and the Christian Educators Association on how to deal with the issue of sexual orientation in public schools.  The document urges school officials to "take seriously complaints of name calling, harassment, and discrimination," and to avoid discriminating against student clubs because of their political or religious message. (See earlier article)  Steve Crampton, chief counsel with the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy (AFA Law Center), finds the collaboration between the Christian group and the homosexual advocacy group disturbing. He says while he supports civil debate on issues relating to homosexuality, he has serious concerns about Christian educators coming to the table with a group like GLSEN. The pro-family attorney says Christians have no business legitimizing a group that is "all about advocating teenage homosexual sex." AFA Law Center litigators "have been involved in matters that have grown out of GLSEN conferences, in which graphic descriptions and instructions in homosexual sexual practices have taken place under GLSEN's purview, indeed sometimes with taxpayer dollars at stake," he contends.

 

Conservative Student Club Wins Right to Display Flag in School
The Traditional Values Club, a conservative student club at Howell High School in Howell, Michigan, announced today that it had won the right to display its club flag in the main school hallway alongside the flag of the Diversity Club, a rainbow-colored flag many believe serves as a symbol of homosexual rights.

 

'Common Ground' Document at Center of Homosexual-'Ex-Gay' Squabble
A homosexual activist group and an "ex-gay" group are accusing each other of misconstruing a new agreement between the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network and the Christian Educators Association International on how to deal with the issue of sexual orientation in public schools.

 

Somers, NY: "Another School District Blocks Gay Speakers" Due to Parental Outrage
365Gay.com, 3.31.2006

Next Monday the Williston School Board will hold a special meeting to decide whether to reschedule the event. Administrators at Williston Central School are recommending that Outright Vermont be invited back to the public school despite the parental objections.

 

 

Sources and Resources for Further Study

 

Common Ground on Sexual Orientation in Public Schools

Document:  “Public Schools and Sexual Orientation:  A First Amendment Center        

Framework for Finding Common Ground,”    

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/PDF/sexual.orientation.guidelines.PDF

News release:  “First Amendment Center framework suggested to help educators,

parents, students find ‘common ground’,”   

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/analysis.aspx?id=16612

News Article:  “Common ground on how to deal with the issue of sexual

orientation in public schools,”  

http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/3/152006a.asp

News Article:  “Unlikely Alliance Takes on School Conflict as Public Schools

Cope with Conflicts over Homosexuality,”  

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/S/SCHOOLS_GAY_CONFLICTS?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US

 

Other Sources Cited

 

“The Case of the Censored T-Shirt,” Alliance Defense Fund Radio Clip

http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/UserDocs/audio/060310_censoredtshirt.mp3

“The Case of the Pink Triangle,” Alliance Defense Fund Radio Clip

http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/UserDocs/audio/060309_pinktriangle.mp3

“The Case of the Silenced Parents,” ADF Radio Clip, retrieved from internet

http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/UserDocs/audio/060306_silencedparents.mp3

Cloud, John.  “The Battle over Gay Teens: What happens when you come out as a kid?

How gay youths are challenging the right--and the left,” Time Oct. 10, 2005

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1112856-1,00.html

“Education Schools vs. Education,”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10753446/site/newsweek/

“Educational Resources and Curriculum Tools,” Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education

Network (GLSEN) http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/educator/educator/index.html

“'Gay' Teens Are Using the System: Students Fight Personal Cases of Discrimination

Through the Courts and Political Activism,” The LA Times

http://ktla.trb.com/news/local/la-me-gayteens12mar12,0,5991329.story?coll=ktla-newslocal-1

LA Unified School District: Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students –

Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination.  LA Unified School Dist., REF-1557,

2.15.2006     http://www.alliancealert.org/2006/20060323.pdf

Legal and historical guides to free speech and other issues on campus (in PDF format)

available from:   http://www.thefire.org/index.php/guides/

Marshall, Catherine and Oliva, Maricela (2006).  Leadership for Social Justice:  Making

Revolutions in Education.  Boston:  Pearson. 

“Not in Our School: Parents Concerned About State-Sponsored ‘New Gay Teenager’

Seminar,” http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=3692

“Our Inevitable Conflict with the Homosexual Lobby” 

http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/5648.article

“Police Say Woman Had Sex with Girl, 14”  

http://www.tbo.com/news/metro/MGBOVR16TKE.html?imw=Y

“The Science Of Sexual Orientation” CBS, 3.12.2006, 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/03/09/60minutes/main1385230.shtml

"Senate Kills Bill Decried as Anti-Gay"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/02/AR2006030201815.html

“Ten Percent of Americans are 'Gay' -- Urban Myth Explored”

http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/huston/060314

Unconstitutional ‘Dispositions’ Criteria Wither under Public Scrutiny,”

http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/6832.html

“Use of Dispositions Theory to Enforce Ideological Orthodoxy,”

http://www.thefire.org/index.php/case/686.html

 

Organizations and Web Sites

 

Alliance Defense Fund http://www.adf.org

American Association of School Administrators

American Civil Liberties Union http://www.aclu.org

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

Bridge Builders http://www.bridge-builders.org

Christian Educators Association International http://www.ceai.org/

First Amendment Center http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network http://www.glsen.org/

Liberty Counsel http://www.lc.org

Resources for Gays & Ex-gays  http://www.inqueery.com/index.html

World Observer/Education

http://www.worldobserver.org/Education/education1-main.htm  

 

 

 

  I just want to learn my numbers and letters, not all that other stuff!

 

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