A recent agreement between several national groups on how to handle “sexual orientation” in schools is unacceptable, misleading and may actually cause more problems than it purports to solve.
The document, “Public Schools and Sexual Orientation” was released by the First Amendment Center in conjunction with the Christian Educators Association International and GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.Since I have researched and reported on homosexuality in the schools for more than a decade through the organization I head, Mission America of Columbus, Ohio, I read this announcement with shock and dismay. My first reaction was, “GLSEN? How could a group of genuine Christian believers sit down at any table with that organization?”
And reviewing the document itself has only heightened my concern. Throughout the document, homosexuality is treated as an alternate viewpoint which Christians are now supposed to treat with respect and civility. We are to “agree to disagree” when it comes to students, and to view this as just an “alternate viewpoint.” This presents a problem for a committed Christian, when we know from both God’s standards and from public-health statistics that homosexuality has grave, life-changing consequences and should never be advocated to youth.
School administrators are empowered to act on behalf of children to eliminate any obstacle to student safety. Yet through the efforts of aggressive advocacy groups like GLSEN, the American Civil Liberties Union and others, many school officials have been persuaded that homosexuality can somehow be presented “safely” to students. It’s apparent that this erroneous assumption was the starting point in drafting this agreement.
Homosexuality is not a viewpoint – it’s an array of high-risk, abnormal behaviors. We pay millions of dollars as taxpayers to fund HIV-prevention efforts and treatment for AIDS. The most common way HIV is spread in the United States is still through male-to-male anal sex, or through bisexual sex. Some teens will engage in homosexual or bisexual behavior before they leave high school, and more will surely do so when it’s treated with “respect” at their public school. How can responsible educators – particularly those who are Christians – in any way encourage or enable practices that are verifiably dangerous?
For example, according to Dr. Jeffery Satinover, in testimony before the Massachusetts Senate Judiciary Committee in 2003:
The specific concern in supporting young men in a gay identification is that innumerable studies from major centers around the U.S. and elsewhere note that a 20-year-old man who identified himself as gay carries 30 percent (or greater) risk of being HIV positive or dead of AIDS by age 30. A recent Canadian study published concluded that in urban centers gay male identification is associated with a life expectancy comparable to that in Canada in the 1870’s.
I contacted my friend, E. Ray Moore, director of Exodus Mandate for an opinion. Here’s his reaction to the agreement:
By participating in the First Amendment Center’s Consensus Guidelines for schools on sexual orientation, Christian Educators Association International representatives have led their putative Christian public-school teachers’ fellowship into serious compromise. CEAI has adopted the “dialectic paradigm,” seeking common ground where none exists.
In doing this, they have harmed their testimony as a bona fide Christian organization and given cover and support to GLSEN, whose policies are harmful to vulnerable children in our government schools. Their approach shows the potential for serious compromise to which Christian teachers expose themselves and which compromise is now endemic to K-12 public-school education.
Moore points out the track record of GLSEN. I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing books and curricula GLSEN recommends to students and teachers. The assumptions, ideas, and behaviors the group supports are, by and large, appalling. Based on the information I have, when I even hear this group’s name, my first instinct as a mother, a Christian and a former teacher, is to say, “Run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.” Never in a million years should any concerned groups of parents, educators – and certainly not Christians – sit down trustfully at a table to make an agreement with them. The likelihood of GLSEN honoring such an agreement is slim and none.
This is group that helped organize the infamous “Fistgate” workshops in Massachusetts several years ago, that taught students from area homosexual clubs as young as 14 the life-threatening practice of anal “fisting.” GLSEN has pledged to establish “gay” clubs in every U.S. school, even at the grade-school level, and has already led a nationwide effort that has resulted in 3,000 such clubs being started in middle and high schools. Their book and curricular recommendations present the following in a positive light:
- homosexual adults raising children
- teen heterosexual and homosexual sex
- sex between young teens and adults
- teens making homosexual hook-ups via the Internet
- cross-dressing and surgical or hormonal sex change procedures for youth
- use of pornography by youth
- paganism, the occult and any spiritual practice except traditional Christianity
- holding bigoted and hostile views about ex-homosexuals
- holding bigoted and hostile views about traditional Christianity
Anyone who wants to check this out should go to GLSEN’s Book Link-curricular selections on its website, and get some of the books and start reading.
A tremendous amount of compromise on the part of Christians is revealed by the document itself, which echoes many of the current errors in homosexual advocacy by putting traditional moral views on the defensive. The document asserts the need to promptly punish bullying and name-calling. Yet administrators have always had the power to do that. This topic is GLSEN’s calling card.
They’ve promoted so-called “safe schools” programs and “anti-harassment” policies in schools by making exaggerated and misleading associations between opposition to homosexuality and bullying. Both types of policies often include acceptance of homosexual behavior as a way to “solve” the bullying issue, which is classic propaganda. We don’t need to sign on to the unwarranted implication that Christians and the Christian faith are somehow to blame for unfortunate incidents of bullying.
GLSEN has built an entire school week in January – “No Name-Calling Week” – by building up the victim status of homosexual students. The reason so many school boards have been sold on the notion of a need for “gay” clubs is by being told that homosexual students are at higher risk than other students. While no one doubts that some bullying of students who believe they are homosexual does occur, these are sad, yet isolated incidents with no uniform characteristics. They are not the fault of Christian values.
Yet this agreement seems to lay any bullying that does occur at the feet of Christians.
This does an incredible disservice to the millions of good-hearted and peaceful Christian kids and families out there. The vast, vast majority are neighborly, civil people who would never physically or even verbally harass someone, even when they differ with them strongly. But by highlighting this issue for special prominence, it seems to imply once again that Christians provoke violence.
This same dishonest manipulation is being used by homosexual advocacy groups to push “hate crimes” laws through our legislatures and Congress, based on false information and the trend toward the criminalization of Christianity. How could these Christian educators be so gullible as to lend another building block to reinforce this false impression? Do they realize how this puts Christian kids in our schools in a continually defensive posture when it comes to standing firmly for Christian sexual morality and even sharing their faith and expressing their views? The “silence” in many school climates is the absence of Christian views – our children are too intimidated already by the overwhelming hostility.
The agreement recommends that school officials not “discriminate against student clubs.” This essentially gives a green light to “gay-straight alliances.” Not only is the accommodation by a Christian group on this point appalling, but it ties the hands of what Christian parents and educators ought to be doing – fighting the existence of these clubs every step of the way. Their very existence on a school campus says to every student that homosexuality is a credible option.
Homosexual clubs also undermine the truth of the Gospel. When adults who claim to be Christians stand by and allow these clubs without protest, this silence communicates one more time to kids that maybe Scripture isn’t entirely correct in calling homosexuality an “abomination.” No wonder Christian kids are falling away from the faith. Not only should parents, teachers and other students reserve the right to object to such clubs, they have a spiritual obligation to do so.
And, lest one should object that one religious view can’t be forced on public schools, this behavior has been condemned by most cultures and most religions since time began. There remains plenty of agreement about this among people who hold a wide variety of beliefs. Supporting such consensus are the gruesome health statistics about homosexuality, which no responsible school official should ignore.
Another provision in the agreement recommends that school districts do “not have to define family in the broader culture” in order to be fair to all parents. This must please GLSEN greatly, because its recommended books like “My Two Uncles,” “”Molly’s Family,” “Who’s in a Family?” and “Daddy’s Roommate” can now be available to small children without Christian objections.
Among the tips for parents in this agreement are to refrain from jumping to conclusions; to take complaints directly to school officials; and to refrain from lawsuits and informing the media. While it’s always advisable for parents to meet with teachers and administrators on any concerns, parents often have little recourse when the school greets their concerns with suspicion or dismissal, or will not give them the information they ask for, or refuses to change objectionable curricula, book selections or policies. The resources available to all citizens in a democratic society should still remain at the disposal of Christian parents, including enlisting the aid of the court system, and if necessary, alerting the media.
One phrase in this agreement is particularly troubling. It says, “… it is important to reaffirm that public schools belong to all Americans. The role of school officials, therefore, is to be fair, honest brokers of a dialogue that … seeks the common good.” Yet consider what such a “common good” will involve. We would not sit down at the table with those advocating the benefits of anorexia, child abuse or binge drinking as alternate “viewpoints.” Why is any school official sitting down with GLSEN, advocates of child homosexuality and gender change? And why are Christians agreeing to refrain from warning children about a behavior our faith teaches is wrong? But these Christians have done just that, and in so doing, are literally abandoning the welfare of all students in public schools.
Because of such poisonous nonsense, I have come to the conclusion that Christians who are at all able to do so should remove their children from public schools and that committed Christian educators should teach elsewhere. There’s almost no way to ensure an education that even remotely resembles truth, in an atmosphere of such compromised leadership and moral confusion.
Linda Harvey is president of Mission America, a pro-family organization which monitors homosexual activism, the occult and New Age influences on American youth.