In the wake of a string of youth suicides related to anti-LGBT bullying, you would think that religious conservative groups would at least have the good grace to wait a while before jumping back on the anti-LGBT bandwagon, but no. Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, wrote last week that it’s not anti-gay bullying that’s causing these suicides, it’s gay indoctrination in schools that is subjecting kids to an unhealthy “lifestyle” and makes them more likely to commit suicide.
From The Minnesota Independent (emphasis added):
Prichard asserts that the suicide death of 15-year-old Justin Aaberg was not due to anti-LGBT bullying. Aaberg took his life in July, and his mother and friends say anti-LGBT bullying played a factor Prichard claims that “homosexual activists” are “manipulating” his death to get homosexual indoctrination programs into the school district.
“Whatever the exact reason for Justin’s suicide it’s an enormous tragedy that shouldn’t be manipulated for ideological purposes which is what’s being done now,” he wrote on Thursday. “I’ll of course be accused of being unloving, hateful, etc. But is the loving thing to encourage and promote unhealthy and harmful behaviors and practices?”
I would agree that youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk, because they’ve embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle. These alternative sexual identifications or lifestyles deny the reality that we are created male and female. To live or try to live in conflict with how we are made will invariably cause problems, e.g. emotional, psychological and social. Notwithstanding gay activist assertions to the contrary, people aren’t gay, lesbian, transgender, etc. by God’s design or nature. We are male and female with sexual expression designed for a lifelong union between a man and a woman. Denying or fighting against this reality is the reason alternative forms of sexual expression, whether homosexual or heterosexual, will put people at greater risk. To assert otherwise is to deny reality and involves “kicking against the goad” to use a biblical analogy.
The Minnesota Family Council and the anti-LGBT Parents Action League are both lobbying local schools against adopting specific provisions to protect LGBT kids because, as you can see above, they believe that such provisions are a way gay groups advance the so-called “gay agenda” in schools and, therein, destroy traditional marriage and marginalize religious belief.
On the website TrueTolerance.org, anti-gay group Focus on the Family maps out its own anti-bullying plan (which can be viewed here.pdf), something that associated groups like the Minnesota Family Council are quick to point to. The model calls for all bullying class protections (race, gender, disability etc.) to be dropped and instead advocates for the creation of a blanket anti-bullying policy that covers all children regardless of sexuality, race, disability and so on.
Admittedly, this is an attractive idea but it is flawed on several counts. First, the success of a blanket policy hinges on public school and college administrators protecting youths equally — while many of course do, we know that when it comes to anti-LGBT bias, as has been the case with other currently protected groups, some officials continue to treat students differently and, in particular, may overlook such bullying because they lack a framework to properly tackle these incidents or perhaps hold anti-LGBT views themselves and therefore fail to act.
Needless to say that, if left unchecked, this kind of bullying is dangerous. A new study published this week in the journal of Developmental Psychology appears to support existing data that LGBT youths are subjected to a severe amount of bullying which has a lasting negative impact on their lives.
From CBS News:
It showed that the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people is severely compromised by bullying and harassment they receive in school.
The study examined the school-related experiences of 245 LGBT young adults between the ages of 21 and 25. It found that LGBT young adults reported higher levels of depression and decreased life satisfaction.
The scientists behind the study called on schools to take action to address the bullying, violence, and social isolation that LGBT youth face, including the implementation of education programs for students and faculty, offering support programs, and protecting students through tough antidiscrimination policies.
“Our research makes it crystal clear that anti-LGBT bullying is a major reason that youth who don’t conform to gender rules or expectations have poorer mental health later in life,” study co-author Stephen T. Russell, a consultant with the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, said in a written statement.
This kind of bullying isn’t just harming LGBT youths, either. Indiana teen Billy Lucas was only perceived to be gay by his peers but he was bullied because of that perception and ultimately took his own life in September aged 15. Focus and associated groups advocate a “neutral policy” approach to LGBT topics so that no sexual orientation other than heterosexuality is mentioned in schools. The inherent prejudice in this is obvious and its flaw is glaring because it fails to tackle the underlying intolerance of such bullying.
Furthermore, Focus on the Family’s toothless anti-bullying model wants to preserve what they call a religious right to object to homosexuality in public schools. Specifically, the wording is that no policy should be allowed “to prohibit expression of religious, philosophical, or political views” (Page 4, Section V; ADF Model Bullying Policy).
On the website the group rallies against “politicized” anti-LGBT specific bullying policies but note the language that was taken from the bullying policy. They don’t want special protections for political/social views except for their own, it seems.
It is also worth noting that Focus is affiliated with the group Exodus which promotes a form of ex-gay therapy. Associated groups like PFOX (not to be confused with the LGBT-affirming PFLAG) last year placed literature in schools including “I Chose to Change” a leaflet that was distributed to teenagers in Montgomery County Public Schools along with their report cards and which advocated that a person can “choose to change” his or her sexuality. The leaflet can be viewed here. According to this report, ex-gay literature disseminated on campus is something that anti-gay groups may also be pushing for in Aaberg, Minnesota.
Regardless of these facts, Focus on the Family was quick to praise The Minnesota Family Council for its stance, reportedly saying:
“Once schools are forced to include special categories for things like sexual orientation or gender identity in their policies, that has been used as leverage to get in homosexual-themed curriculum for kids as young as kindergarten [and to introduce] so-called ‘diversity training’ for high school students and teachers,” said Candi Cushman, education analyst with Focus on the Family. “So this just becomes a gateway for homosexuality promotion in the school.”
Kids throughout America continue to suffer because Focus on the Family and associated groups fear that “homosexuality promotion” might happen in schools. Last, let’s just dissect the “homosexuality promotion” meme.
The most schools could promote is that being gay is normal, not something to be ashamed of and not a result of a personal choice, an idea that the overwhelming majority of the credible medical community agrees with and a reality that is accepted by a growing majority of the general public.
To object to homosexuality on the grounds of a particular interpretation of a religious belief is, of course, a right. It should not, however, be a carte blanche for groups like Focus on the Family or the Minnesota Family Council to proselytize in public schools at the expense of the mental and physical wellbeing of LGBT kids and teenagers.
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The Trevor Project runs a 24/7 helpline with trained counselors ready to listen if you or someone you know would like to talk about the issues dealt with in this post.
The Trevor Project Helpline number is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).
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Read more: asher brown, billy lucas, bullying, civil rights, Cyberbullying, education, gay rights, lgbt rights, national coming out day, safe schools improvement act, seth walsh, straight advocacy, suicide, the trevor project, transgender rights, tyler clementi
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