THE GAY AGENDA IN SCHOOLS, PART II: REDEFINING 'SENSITIVITY' AND
Editor's note: In our last issue we discussed the attempts of new groups of gay activists
to change the public-school curricula to reelect a more "gay positive" view of
homosexual activity and to introduce speakers and "counseling" groups who share the
same view. In this issue we will examine who these new groups think should be
allowed to teach, and what material about homosexuality they want to see placed in
by David Morrison
Above all else, we recommend study of the Massachusetts model. Massachusetts is the
most advanced state when it comes to educational equity for LGBT people, and that
despite its being largely Catholic and having a Republican governor!" (Public
Education Regarding Sexual Orientation Nationally-PERSON Project-Organizing
Manual, p. 13).
In many ways, Massachusetts represents heaven to activists seeking to use the school
system to advance social acceptance of homosexual activity. For several years the
Governor's Office has maintained a commission on gay and lesbian youth, and in 1993
Massachusetts passed a law protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
"transgendered" students in the public schools. Further, and most alarming, the
Massachusetts State Board of Education has required that 36 institutions accredited to
certify teachers "demonstrate to the State Department of Education that their graduates
are sensitive to sexual orientation issues."
"What this means," according to the PERSON Manual, "is that, as of October 1, 1994,
each of the 36 higher education institutions in Massachusetts that train individuals for
certification as teachers, administrators, school guidance counselors, and/or school
psychologists must demonstrate to the State Department of Education that its graduates
are sensitive to sexual orientation issues for students or face the loss of its certification
process. Thus, Massachusetts has become the first state to institutionalize sexual
orientation sensitivity training into school personnel educational programs."
And "sensitivity" does not include any belief that homosexual activity is morally
wrong, or for that matter even physically dangerous, although the majority of
Americans believe the former and many scientific studies indicate the latter.
"Sensitivity means that sexual orientation is a minority status like race and gender and
that schools which train teachers must demonstrate their sensitivity to it in regard to
things like suicide prevention, namecalling and so on," said Karen Harbeck, of the
National Institute for Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Concerns in Education,
Incorporated. "Sensitivity means schools have to offer programs in being sensitive to
gay and lesbian concerns."
And although Massachusetts leads the way in sexual orientation activism, teachers in
other states are also trying to move the agenda forward. In San Francisco, two teachers
are fighting suspension after parents objected to the way two speakers in the class had
discussed homosexual activity. One, a lesbian, reportedly responded to a question from
the class with the comment that she "did not want to be a man." She then went on to
explain, graphically, how she practiced lesbian sex.
Gay teachers & libraries
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the unified school district sponsored a conference called
Models of Pride III. This conference "targets people between the ages of 15 and 23,"
reported one announcement of the event. In New Hampshire an English teacher is
fighting dismissal after parents objected to her assigning"gay-themed" literature to her
high school English class. The teacher obtained the books from the Respect For All
Youth Fund which, focuses "on the needs of gay and lesbian youth in the school
Groups like the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network, the Gay and Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation and the National Coalitions for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual
Youth have also targeted both school and community libraries in order to get them to
carry titles which celebrate actively homosexual lifestyles. "The existence of collections
addressing gay and lesbian issues advised the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Teachers
"Gay advocacy groups have targeted libraries since the 1960s," said Karen Jo Gounaud
of Family Friendly Libraries. "Books on homosexuality used to be classified under
deviancy' but they got the libraries to look at it a little differently so now they are
classified under gay." Gounaud also noted that one way so many books on this subject
make it into libraries is by multiplying the categories. "First it was 'gay,' then it was
'gay and lesbian,' now it's 'bisexual.' Each category gets its run of titles."
Gounaud and other pro-family activists do not want their objections to homosexual
advocacy in the schools to be seen as "bashing" homosexually oriented people or
thinking ill of them. They, like the Catholic ministry called Courage, recognize that
homosexually oriented men and women as people created in the image of God who
deserve safe treatment and a safe environment.
But when homosexual activists begin promoting the position that homosexual activity
can be a valid moral choice, parents and teachers need to be concerned.
No amount of advocacy or activism can make homosexual acts either morally
acceptable or healthy, and profamily parents need to fight efforts to legitimize them.
David Morrison is a writer/researcher for HLI.
1 Public Education Regarding Sexual Orientation Nationally (PERSON) Organizing
Manual, p. 220.
2 , 13 October 1995, p. 12
3 , 22 September 1995.
4 , 6 October 1995 5 , Gay, Lesbian and
Straight Teachers Network, 1995.
Taken from the December 1995 issue of "HLI Reports."
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