Homosexual rights activists gain influence in public schools
By John W. Kennedy
Paula Millis was caught off guard when her 14-year-old daughter Melissa came home with news that the daily morning announcements over the intercom at high school included an invitation to any student questioning his or her sexuality to a “Gay-Straight Alliance” club meeting after classes.
Millis did some digging and learned that Long Island’s Three Village Central School District encouraged students to explore homosexuality in a variety of ways. At one Gay-Straight Alliance meeting at a local junior high school, author Alex Sanchez spoke about his book Rainbow Boys, which depicts three boys coming out of the closet as “their struggles with sexuality and intolerance draw them into a triangle of love.” Later in a class, Millis’ 13-year-old son Richard had to watch — without parental knowledge — a videotape of Sanchez’s talk.
A shocked Millis went to the school board and urged enactment of a dozen policies, from requiring parental permission to join the club to reviewing books in the school library. The board only agreed to acknowledge the existence of the club on the school’s Web site.
Melissa suffered the fallout. Teachers ridiculed her in class and students surrounded her in halls with insults. Millis had to file police harassment reports. Melissa even received a telephoned death threat.
A curious development has occurred in public education in the past decade. In addition to multiple successes in courts and favorable portrayals in the media, homosexuals today have many schools promoting their agenda.
Although a few schools sponsor pro-homosexual plays and same-sex proms, the most common methods employed are:
• Teaching “diversity” and “tolerance” courses to stop “homophobia.”
• Stocking library shelves with pro-homosexual literature.
• Inviting speakers from homosexual activist groups to address students.
• Forming homosexual clubs for students.
• Sponsoring special “diversity” and “pride” days.
“There was a time when the gay activist movement didn’t even talk about going into schools because they knew it wasn’t a popular idea,” says Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth in Washington, D.C. “They’ve been so relentless they’ve worn down decent pro-family people to the point where they’re now going boldly into schools.”
The first Gay-Straight Alliance club started a decade ago; now there are more than 2,000 of them. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is leading the charge, but various homosexual rights, educational, medical and legal organizations lend support. Ironically, homosexual activists are using the Equal Access Act that went into effect two decades ago as a pretext to gain a toehold in schools. The law — which originally granted an after-school Bible club the right to meet — ensures that all extracurricular activities are treated fairly.
GLSEN contends that the median age at which youth understand they are homosexual or lesbian is 13. A GLSEN manual states, “Each of us should have the freedom to explore our sexual orientation and find our known unique expression of lesbian, bisexual, gay, straight or any combination of these.”
“Kids are being lured into experimentation,” says Linda Harvey, founder of Mission: America in Columbus, Ohio. “The Bible is very clear that human beings raised in a godless environment start experimenting comfortably with all kinds of behavior.”
The scariest development, LaBarbera says, is a push among militants to teach the need for “tolerance” in elementary schools. The purported rationale for such indoctrination is to inoculate young people from prejudice so that they don’t grow up persecuting homosexuals.
“Kids are coming out calling themselves homosexuals at very young ages when they have no idea what it all entails,” LaBarbera says.
Earlier this year, Michael and Tonya Hartsell of Wilmington, N.C., filed a complaint after their first-grade daughter brought home a book from the school library. King & King ends with two princes marrying each other. The principal defended the book as appropriate for 6-year-old readers. A sequel follows the two kings as they start a family of their own.
What parents can do
It’s an uphill fight to reverse course once a book such as King & King, or “diversity” curriculum to stomp out “homophobia” or a club such as the Gay-Straight Alliance is in your child’s school. That’s why pro-family experts advise parents to stay informed about what is going on in their child’s school and be proactive when homosexual activism begins to take root. One way to learn what’s going on is to volunteer as a helper at the school.
To help protect children, parents also should:
• Discover what is being taught in the school curriculum.
• Know what policies the school board is implementing.
• Find out what books are available in the school library.
• Network with other concerned parents.
• Ask teachers what will be taught in the classroom.
While promoting “tolerance,” school policies have muzzled medical and moral arguments against homosexuality, according to Scott Davis, youth director for the Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International.
“Kids are hearing only one, untrue viewpoint: that homosexuality is innate and inborn, that it can’t be changed,” Davis says. “They’re told to just embrace the lifestyle because if you have attractions to the same sex you’ll always be gay.”
Condoning experimentation is harmful because it can lead to disease and premature death, Davis says.
This year, more than 1,900 schools across the nation are participating in a “day of silence,” a tactic started in 1996 in which students refuse to speak in class to symbolize their oppression.
“The day of silence is a troublesome development calculated to disrupt the essence of education,” says Steve Crampton, chief counsel of the American Family Association’s Center for Law & Policy in Tupelo, Miss.
Those who oppose the message face reprimand. Mark Austin of Boone, N.C., wore a self-designed T-shirt to his high school with the messages “Homosexuality is sin,” “Hell is REAL” and “Jesus is the Answer!” on the “day of silence.”
The principal ordered Mark to remove his “offensive” shirt or be suspended. He chose suspension. After intervention by AFA, the school expunged Mark’s record of disciplinary action.
The AFA also represented Elliott Chambers, who wore a sweatshirt with the words “Straight Pride” emblazoned on the front to his suburban Minneapolis high school. The principal ordered Elliott to wear the shirt inside out. But the AFA obtained a court injunction allowing Elliott to display the belief.
“In the end, those who take the Scriptures seriously regarding homosexuality cannot condone what schools say we must condone and even celebrate,” Crampton says.
A year ago, New York City opened the nation’s first taxpayer-financed school for “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered” teens. The Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel filed suit over Harvey Milk High School, claiming that the city’s spending $3.2 million to improve facilities solely for 100 homosexual students is discriminatory toward heterosexual students.
Pro-family experts believe the only way to derail the juggernaut is for parents to find out what policies the school board has approved, what curriculum is being used and what books are in the library. Yet those working alone often face disappointment.
Lorraine Povlick of Erie, Pa., became a crusader last year when she asked the local school board not to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identification” to the student harassment policy.
The board didn’t listen. In fact, the school added a “Tolerance 101” class. And the district implemented a dozen-member “safe teacher” network, identified by pink triangles on their classroom doors, where “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered” students may receive counseling without fear of retaliation.
“Safe zones are a subtle denigration of religious values in order to elevate the gay agenda,” Crampton says.
“Parents need to realize there are pro-homosexual messages all around their children,” LaBarbera says. “They can’t just refuse to talk about it.”
Such important decisions shouldn’t be determined by educational “professionals,” LaBarbera says. “Parents are responsible for the moral upbringing of their child. It’s not the school’s child.”
Parents who do nothing face the risk of losing their children to the world, Harvey says.
“Even if kids have been homeschooled or gone to Christian school they will still socialize, be neighbors with, date and marry people exposed to these philosophies in public schools,” Harvey says.
Too often, Christian students hear little or no feedback at home or at church to counteract the desensitizing messages at school, according to Davis.
Christian kids who are struggling with an unwanted attraction to members of the same sex need to hear Christian compassion rather than condemnation, Davis says. Exodus helps many young people who are questioning their sexuality.
“They need someone to listen to their struggles,” Davis says. “They need to know they can leave same-sex attraction behind.”
After the hoopla with New York educators two years ago, Paula Millis and her family moved to Milford, Mich., where Paula continues waging a campaign. The principal at Melissa’s new school spurned Paula’s request to show tolerance for those who didn’t agree with the day of silence. In fact, the principal announced to the whole school that it’s “not a day to debate morals or religious beliefs.”
Millis also discovered a section in Melissa’s U.S. history book devoted to “homophobia” in which religion is blamed as a contributing factor.
“Homosexual activists have discovered another avenue for garnering support for their cause,” Millis says. “It’s by brainwashing students.”
John W. Kennedy is news editor for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.
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