Battle lines drawn over 'teaching gay'

Groups against gay education are trying to send a louder message than those in support of it. "I feel gay, lesbi
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Groups against gay education are trying to send a louder message than those in support of it.

"I feel gay, lesbian and transgender advocates are using the recent and former hate crimes to push the promotion of gay education in schools," former educator and family value activist Dan Rush said. "They are crying 'equal rights' and 'stop the hate,' but in reality hate in this world, sadly, is an ongoing thing, in all areas.

"We can't target every area of hate individually in school, so we teach tolerance. Tolerance covers all the bases without coming out and saying, 'Let's teach the kids about the gay way of life and how it's OK to be gay.' The problem is, not everyone agrees with that, but they do agree with tolerance."

When GroundSpark -- formerly Women's Educational Media -- recently released "It's STILL Elementary, Talking About Gay Issues In Schools," to help elementary and middle school teachers lead age-appropriate classroom discussions about gay and lesbian people, many parents were outraged.

Among those against the idea was Castalia parent Brian Taylor, who was interviewed for a March 3 Register story about the issue.

"There's no way ... I'd let my child be educated about gays and lesbians," he said. "That would be like me saying, 'Go on, go ahead, I want you to be gay, son.'"

Several members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community fought back just as hard, saying the more children are educated, the fewer problems there will be in the future.

"If we teach younger children to accept the way of life, then we'll have less hate in the future, then all people of every color, religion and sexual orientation will be created equal. Equality is what this community wants." said Marcus DeLene, a gay rights activist from Youngstown.

"If kids in school would've been taught being different is OK at an early age, I might not have had to endure the endless teasing and name-calling ...," said Daniel Preston, a gay Sandusky resident. "Educating the population about being gay isn't promoting children to grow up gay. Usually it's not a choice. ... We need to kill the prejudice early on to prevent future chaos or crime."

Still, the argument continues.

"The question is, should schools teach about lesbian and gay issues," Culture Campaign policy advisor Teri Paulsen said. "First of all, there is something left unsaid in that question that is really important. What is being proposed is not just teaching 'about' lesbian and gay issues, for it is impossible to teach 'about' sexual behavior without also communicating a moral value system regarding that behavior.

"Pro-homosexual curriculum teaches students the moral value system of LGBT activists. This is not only deeply offensive, it is an attempt by these activists to deliberately undermine the values of many, if not most, parents and taxpayers who believe that homosexual behavior is immoral."

Several groups, including Grassroots American Values, National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and Mission America, have strong opinions on the subject and provide a slew of professionally researched studies on their Web sites outlining the alleged dangers of homosexuality and the danger of exposing children to the controversial issues.

"Homosexuality, transgenderism, bisexuality and highly controversial subjects should not be part of a school curriculum," information released by GAV states. "Homosexual groups talk about 'tolerance,' but what they intend with material such as 'It's Still Elementary' is not merely tolerance, but acceptance. We hope the people charged with our children's education will steer away from the fallacious argument of 'tolerance.'"

NARTH president Joseph Nicolosi stated on his group's Web site that "bullying of students is recognized as a common problem."

"NARTH opposes all forms of harassment against students in public or private schools," he said. "However, harassment is targeted not only at students with atypical gender identities, but against those who are too tall, too short, too thin or too overweight. Boys and girls also face harassment if they're too handsome or beautiful, too ugly, too smart or too dumb. Minority students face harassment from whites, and they often harass white students."

NARTH is not alone in this view.

"Federally-supported, required-diversity or -tolerance programs for students and teachers exist in most public schools -- even at the elementary level," Phill Burres of Citizens for Community Values said. "The lessons taught here equate acceptance of homosexuality with religious and racial tolerance. They portray traditional values, and those who hold them, as 'hateful.' Homosexual role-playing frequently is encouraged."

There is one thing all groups -- both for and against the teaching of material such as "It's Still Elementary" -- agree on: All children and families should be safe from harassment and physical harm on school grounds.