Homosexual Advocacy Groups Target Classrooms
HOMOSEXUAL ADVOCACY GROUPS TARGET CLASSROOMS
By David Morrison
Have your school aged children celebrated October as Gay and Lesbian History Month yet? Have they been offered the chance to meet their gay, lesbian, or bisexual peer support group in a classroom after school? If six new homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and "transgender" advocacy groups get their way, they soon will.
Formed in the last five years or less, these groups seek to change school systems which, they charge, put "gay" teenagers "at risk." "Gay" teens, they insist, have higher rates for suicide, drug abuse, dropping out and sexually transmitted disease than the rest of the school population, and programs which celebrate homosexual expression are needed if the schools wish to reverse these trends.
Affirmed in a 'gay' identity
But while most of the groups rally in the call to end violence against young people who may have homosexual feelings, their longer-term agenda is to have public schools present homosexual behavior as a morally acceptable "option" for youth and to have a greater percentage of young people affirmed in a "gay" identity early in life.
The offensive is organized roughly along four fronts. First, mount a concerted and organized effort to restrict school texts to only those which present active homosexuality in a "gay positive" light.
Second, attempt to place in schools adult or "peer counselors" who approve homosexual behavior and would affirm a "gay" identity.
Third, campaign to introduce materials which take a benign view of active homosexuality into school libraries. Fourth, attempt to force school teachers and administrators to support the "gay positive" view of active homosexuality.
These initiatives are all, ostensibly, designed to erase the dangers of violence and other social problems from possibly homosexually oriented students, but not everyone familiar with the issue agrees.
"I think many of these efforts are really unnecessary," says Fr. John Harvey, long-time counselor to homosexually-oriented Roman Catholics and Founder of the Church's ministry of chastity called Courage.
"No reasonable person would want a school situation in which people are beaten up or harassed, but schools don't need to affirm being gay in order to end harassment and violence. Many adolescents' sexuality is very fluid. Some could, so to speak, go either way depending on their environment. Schools need to be sensitive to this."
Some Courage members, themselves homosexually inclined and Catholic, agree: "In the long run, I think the activism will wind up hurting some of the very people these groups mean to help," said one Courage member from the Washington D.C. area. "When I was in high school and my feelings were confused, the last thing I would have wanted was someone bringing attention to them all the time. Thank God my school didn't have a Gay and Lesbian History Month to celebrate. It would have been a month of hell."
But activists insist that such changes are necessary and have begun pouring significant time and resources into bringing them about.
Leading the fight to rewrite homosexuality in textbooks is an Oakland, California based group called Public Education Regarding Sexual Orientation Nationally, or otherwise known as the PERSON Project. Although one of the youngest, and still smallest, of the six new groups, they have hit the ground running with the release of a 481-page Organizing Manual for activists who wish to organize for "educational equity" in the "K-12 public schools."
The manual is a state-by-state guide to the curricula suggestion-and-approval process and includes such things as how each state adopts curriculum changes, who the key officials are in that state's process, the names, addresses, phone and fax numbers of members of educational boards, sample letters suggesting how to contact them, as well as the names and account reps for publishing companies serving that state's school system.
PERSON's overall platform declares any disapproval of active homosexuality to be "homophobic" and any desire to shield children from approval of active homosexuality to be censorship. "It was inevitable that the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights battle would eventually move into the classroom." the manual says. "It has not only to do with censorship and the repression of a certain type of knowledge, but even more ominous, it's an attempt to regulate and render invisible a whole group of people."
Instead, students with homosexual inclinations, whether confirmed in them or not, are declared to have a "bill of rights" which includes such "rights" as: the "right" to legislators who do not "reinforce hatred and prejudice," and a "right" to "a heritage free of crippling self-hate."
PERSON definitely favors centralization of the school systems and a centralized approach to educational policy, noting without such centralization they cannot hope to achieve their goals: "Without policy [changes], we are stuck fighting in every classroom in the country, a task which vastly outstrips the meager resources of our movement," the manual says.
PERSON advises activists to seek allies for their efforts from "the local PTA to the national ACLU" and, in particular, to seek help from "progressive people of the cloth," adding: "You will need religious allies to counteract the religious right, not by arguing scripture but merely by standing up and testifying that there is a diversity of religious opinion on this issue."
At the federal level, PERSON suggests activists make use of the new Goals 2000 program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. "Under this law, the manual notes, "every state is to establish bodies to work on ... providing safe, drug free schools. You can use the bit about safe schools, especially, to argue for inclusion of LGBT stuff as a way to prevent hate violence and harassment in the schools."
Fighting such harassment and "homophobia" by including gay-friendly peer groups or adult counselors is one of the primary agendas of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Teachers Network (GLSTN). Working out of a main office in New York City since 1990 and consisting of at least 20 chapters around the nation, the Teachers Network is about the oldest and largest of the new activist groups.
Its most recent attempt to lobby for support groups and "positive role models" for homosexually inclined students was outlined in a brochure called What You Can Do. This brochure, which is aimed at school teachers and administrators, urges them to (among other things) provide "role models" in the form of teachers, coaches and administrators who are openly living an actively homosexual life. If such teachers cannot be found, the brochure instructs, speakers from outside the school who affirm homosexual activity should be brought in -as an "interim" step until "openly gay and lesbian faculty" can be hired.
The Teachers Network also wants administrators to provide peer support groups to students who may have homosexual inclinations, particularly along the lines of "Gay- Straight Alliances." Such groups "have been the key" to creating an atmosphere of peer support and acceptance in the schools, the Teachers Network noted.
Of course, all these measures go far beyond what is needed to simply ensure a safe school environment. In reality they take a moral position which says homosexual acts are permissible and may be approved. This can have a devastating effect upon young men and women who might be confused about their sexual identity and whose sexuality may be, to quote Father Harvey again, "fluid."
If teachers in classrooms are to take any position about homosexuality at all, it can only be to assert that people who are homosexually inclined are not to be harmed or harassed but that the behavior itself is dangerous and cannot be morally condoned under any circumstances.
After all, nearly 200 studies in reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journals document serious physical, emotional, and relational costs attached to active homosexuality and other recent studies which dispute the allegation that homosexual identity is fixed in early adolescence.
David Morrison is a writer and editor for HLI.
Taken from the November 1995 issue of "HLI Reports." To subscribe contact: HLI Reports  Airpark Road, Suite E Gaithersburg, MD 20879
1 !OutProud! online magazine as of 4 October 1995.
2 Organizing Manual, Public Education Regarding Sexual Orientation Nationally (PERSON) Project, p. 24.
3 Ibid, p. 6. 4 Ibid, p. 5.
5 Ibid p. 10. 6 Ibid, p. 12. 7 Ibid, p. 20.
8 Gay Lesbian and Straight Teachers Network brochure, , 1995. 9 Ibid.
10 Thomas E. Schmidt, InterVarsity Press, 1995, p. 127-128.
11 G. Remafedi, et al. "Demography of Sexual Orientation in Adolescents," Pediatrics 89, no. 4, pt. 2 (April 1992): 714-21. Cited in , p. 103. See also L. Ku, F. L. Sonenstein, and J. H. Pleck "Patterns of HIV Risk and Preventive Behavior Among Teenage Men, Public Health Reports, 107 (March/April 1992): 131-8. Cited in , p. 104.