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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for November, 2012

Westboro Baptist has candidate running for Kansas School Board

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2012

From James Gurney’s charming children’s book Dinotopia, which has nothing to do with Intelligent Design.

IN the 1990′s the Kansas State Board of Education became the front line in the battle over the origins of the universe. Control went back and forth between various factions, with each changing the standards to fit their ideology.

But things came to a head in 2005 when the Board held hearings on the teaching of Intelligent Design. Recognizing that the hearings were for show (the ID supporters held a 6-4 majority), the scientific community opted not to participate. At the end of a week of Intelligent Design support, the Board concluded that evolution is “an unproven, often disproven” theory.

It wasn’t a bright shining moment for Kansas and the citizens were not thrilled to be portrayed nationally as nutbag extremists.

In August 2006, six conservatives were replaced by Democrats or moderate Republicans and in 2007 the Board voted to bring Kansas’ education in line with scientific consensus, free of theistic explanations. The Board has been controlled by moderate Republicans and Democrats since, and that is not going to change this year.

But they may well find themselves back in the news as an embarrassment. (NECN)

Jack Wu, a Topeka computer programmer, made opposition to teaching evolution the cornerstone of his campaign as the Republican nominee in the 4th District in northeast Kansas against Democratic incumbent Carolyn Campbell, also from Topeka. Wu described evolution as “Satanic lies” and said on a website that public schools were preparing students to be “liars, crooks, thieves, murderers, and perverts.”

Wu also raised eyebrows by saying that he was lured to Kansas from California in 2008 by Westboro Baptist. The Topeka church, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., is known internationally for picketing with anti-gay slogans and proclaiming that American soldiers’ deaths are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. Wu is not formally a member, but he’s attended services regularly.

“I consider the people at Westboro Baptist Church good friends so it’s a very friendly and very helpful relationship,” Wu said in an October email, responding to questions about his affiliation. “I learn a lot from them, a lot of truth.”

The Republican Party leadership disavowed Wu, bringing an answer to the question, “Is there anything so wing-nut and anti-gay that even Sam Brownback won’t support it?” Surprisingly, there is.

Thomas Sowell makes a point or two worth considering about bullying

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

October 25th, 2011

Economist and conservative commentator Thomas Sowell has a new complaint out about the efforts to end gay bullying. Oddly, I find that while our reasoning and perspectives are far apart, he says some things that we should consider.

The premise of his column is that media attention and activism follow trends and popularity rather than even handedly reporting facts with context and perspective enough to allow the customer to see the full picture. I hardly think that is worth debating; we all have felt frustration over what has and what has not received media attention.

Sowell compares the attention given to gay kids being bullied to that of Asian-American kids being beaten in Philadelphia. I don’t know much about that situation, but it appears to be localized, a year or so old, and does not appear to have resulted in suicides. And Sowell’s general snittiness and petty whininess discourages any sympathy that he might have otherwise elicited.

The school authorities can ignore the beating up of Asian kids, but homosexual organizations have enough political clout that they cannot be ignored. Moreover, there are enough avowed homosexuals among journalists that they have their own National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association — so continuing media publicity will ensure that the authorities will have to “do something.”

Had Sowell used google, he would have discovered the existence of the Asian American Journalists Association. Or he could have glanced at a news station to see some avowed Asian Americans with his own eyes.

And had he been even peripherally aware, he would know that the anti-bullying stories were home grown, finding life first on gay blogs and then through efforts to send messages of encouragement to our own and only after paid advertising by a socially responsible corporation did America really take note of the problem.

But, despite the inaccuracies and false comparisons, what Sowell said next is interesting and worth a careful look by our community.

But political pressures to “do something” have been behind many counterproductive and even dangerous policies.

A grand jury report about bullying in the schools of San Mateo County, California, brought all sorts of expressions of concern from school authorities — but no definition of “bullying” nor any specifics about just what they plan to do about it.

Sowell is right on several points.

The programs put in place by schools to “address it and move on” do not seem to be significantly reducing the abuse. Often they are just the process the administration goes through in order to deflect blame or criticism. And even those schools which care and in which administrators genuinely and sincerely are trying to stop the bullying, the programs have not proven to be as effective as we would like. The problem of bullying is a cultural problem and one which needs to be addressed on a grander scale.

And (though this may anger some readers) sometimes our goals fall victim to a emotion/reason divide in which we have an abundance of people who feel and care and love and support but not too many who are cranky but make tough decisions, plot out strategies, and know how to effect change in real and tangible ways.

We have a narrow window before the public gets bored and the latest and newest urgent issue fad sweeps bullying into the corner. We simply don’t have the time to let our feelings drive our response.

We need specific definitions; we need exact and evenly applied consequences; we need to let the greater community know what it is that we are trying to accomplish with clear and specific language and get their support; we need to set aside hostilities and partner with the churches in town including the most conservative – as tempting as it is to believe otherwise, they don’t want gay kids to be bullied into suicide and if we don’t make this about taking sides then they could be our most powerful allies.

I am appreciative of the support our kids have gotten from the President to the small town citizen who all offer encouragement. And I’m thankful for the efforts of those who have worked tirelessly on this issue long before it came in vogue and will continue to do so when attention is elsewhere. Let’s take this opportunity to corral our energies behind them and bring about real structures of change.

This is a rare moment – lets use it to change the culture and teach a new generation that choosing to bully will come with social consequence: visibly disappointed family (and that is a tough role for parents who want to rush to their child’s defense), religious condemnation, and social rejection. If all of society tells a child that bullying has no supporters or defenders, if his peers consider bullies to be jerks, then this can be beat.

And that message will not only save the lives of gay kids, it will make the beating of Asian American kids in Philadelphia less likely. So even if Thomas Sewell is the one to inspire it, let’s make it happen.

But finally, Sewell discussed in his concluding paragraphs an issue that I have been reluctant to address. I’ve started and stopped a dozen times in my mind and even drafted a few times. I know this is not going to be popular and may well be seen as traitorous, but I think I need to say it.

First Sewell:

Meanwhile, a law has been passed in California that mandates teaching about the achievements of gays in the public schools. Whether this will do anything to stop either verbal or physical abuse of gay kids is very doubtful.

But it will advance the agenda of homosexual organizations and can turn homosexuality into yet another of the subjects on which words on only one side are permitted. Our schools are already too lacking in the basics of education to squander even more time on propaganda for politically correct causes that are in vogue. We do not need to create special privileges in the name of equal rights.

Bullying is too important and the consequences are too real for this issue to be squandered on political grandstanding and organizational fundraising. And that is what California’s Senate Bill 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, seems to me to be.

California’s laws are about as inclusive as it is possible to be. Other than marriage – about which the legislature can do nothing – gay and lesbian (and to a great extent transgender) Californians have full civil equality. In much of the state social equality is a given and in some places religious equality is the norm.

And while that is great for gay Californians, it isn’t so great for the employees of gay organizations who don’t want to go out of business or for politicians who rely on the contributions and votes that come with being “your champion in Sacramento”. It isn’t even good news for anti-gay activists who need to have a good scare to stir up the masses.

And consequently, in the past few years we have seen the California legislature deal with the establishment of Harvey Milk Day and SB48. They were created expressly for the purposes of giving State Senator Mark Leno a pretense of defending the community, giving the Democratic super-majority an opportunity to demean the minority party, giving extremist Republicans a chance to pander to the base, and giving Equality California a reason to ask for money.

And so they did. Especially Equality California, who emailed me about the need to defend the legislation from “enemies of equality” who were employing “every dirty trick in their handbook” so please send money. Repeatedly.

Harvey Milk Day is unnecessary. It does nothing, it mandates nothing, it impacts nothing. But at least it is benign. There isn’t much harm in naming a day after someone, even if the motivations were an example of politics at its most cynical.

But the FAIR Act is not symbolic. It changes what will be taught in public schools and does so with arrogance and intentional disdain and in language so blatantly biased that when I first read the bill I thought they had to be kidding.

Sewell is not being hyperbolic when he said “it will advance the agenda of homosexual organizations and can turn homosexuality into yet another of the subjects on which words on only one side are permitted.” That is exactly what the bill says.

Specifically:

  • Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and a study of the role and contributions of both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.
  • A teacher shall not give instruction and a school district shall not sponsor any activity that reflects adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.
  • The state board or any governing board shall not adopt any textbook or other instructional materials for use in the public schools that contains any matter reflecting adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.

Actually racial minorities already had law requiring inclusion and banning discrimination. This bill makes two changes: it adds LGBT Californians and changes the prohibition from “discriminatory bias” to “reflects adversely”.

Ignoring the complete nonsense of lessons about the numerous and significant contributions of LBGT Americans to the early history of California, and setting aside the political cover provided by pretense that this only addresses matters which are “on the basis of” a characteristic, we can readily know what this bill does in real terms and practical application.

A teacher should introduce role models, successful politicians, admirable persons, and celebrities so as to or reference his minority ethnicity or that she is lesbian. However, should any person be discussed who is disreputable or a villain, any mention of their ethnicity or orientation should be discouraged.

And this is to be done so as to accomplish the goal of contrasting the positive contributions of ethnic and gay groups with their “role in contemporary society”.

I suppose it could be more blatant. After all , the bill does not seem to mandate that membership cards be distributed or a collection plate be passed to assist those organizations who represent such groups in their current “role in contemporary society”.

And though I share Sewell’s doubt that this law will reduce bullying or even improve self-esteem, it is certain to further increase division and to give a tangible example for those who scream that ‘homosexuals are trying to brainwash our children.’

But what is most frustrating to me is that by prioritizing their own personal goals, Leno and Equality California ignored a real problem and squandered an opportunity to draft a law that could significantly impact the way in which gay people are viewed by society. Rather than attempt to draft soldiers for the Great Culture War, they should have focused on what is perhaps our society’s greatest example of heterosexist presumption: the whitewashing of the sexuality of the people whom these kids already have in their textbooks.

Although it serves partisan politicians, there is little real value to extolling the virtues of Harvey Milk, to whom our community owes a debt of gratitude, but who ultimately was a politician with a checkered history and questionable ethics. And placing emphasis on the social role of groups shifts the focus from education to activism.

However, I think it would be of tremendous value for school kids to learn about Alan Turing, Isaac Newton, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo DaVinci, Oscar Wilde, Alexander the Great, the Sacred Band of Thebes, Sapho, Virginia Wolfe, William Shakespeare, Baron Friedrich von Steuben, Frida Khalo, Jane Addams, Bayard Rustin, Socrates, Hadrian, Daniel (of lion’s den fame), Francis Bacon, Richard the Lion-Hearted, E. M. Forster, Truman Capote, Nikolo Tesla, Savador Dali, and Luca Pacioli. These people, who did not live the heterosexual lifestyle, gave contributions that make Milk and the “early California contributors” seem inconsequential.

And this is an off-the-top-of-my-head listing. A comprehensive listing on “not heterosexuals” in history would truly shock most Americans. And it would add to the recognition that sexual minorities have always been a part of society and as individual contributors have disproportionately provided the sparks of genius that have propelled society forward.

But they threw this away. And for nothing.

As far as I can tell, no one was clamoring for SB 48. If any gay Californians had ever felt any need for a bill that mandated propaganda, they kept it a secret.

And even though Equality California tried to create an artificial emergency, it didn’t work. No one passionately defends a bill they don’t need, didn’t ask for, and which has no positive impact on their life. And I certainly can’t be the only gay Californian who finds the idea to be an affront to their concept of liberty.

And now Equality California is in complete disarray. Their new executive director has resigned and their time as the advocate for gay Californians is at an end. And as they fade, Sen. Mark Leno loses his biggest cheerleader.

But there’s a lessor for us here as well. Perhaps we can have higher expectations of our activists and leaders. Perhaps we can let them know that they exist to advance the needs of our community, not the other way around. And perhaps we can recognize that as we come into our place in society, we need to be cautious that we do not reverse roles and become callous careless oppressors.

But if we are not yet ready to recognize that risk, folks like Thomas Sowell will be there to remind us. Let’s determine not to make him right.

Jim DeMint channels John Briggs

Timothy Kincaid

October 4th, 2010

In 1978, California State Senator John Briggs sponsored an initiative on the ballot which would have banned gays and lesbians, and possibly anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California’s public schools. Although this initiative was initially successful in the polls, it failed on election night by 58.4% to 41.6%.

While the notion of banning gay people from certain types of employment (other than the military) seems archaic, it certainly isn’t dead. In fact, one of the more prominent voices in the Senate seems to be channeling John Briggs. (Spartanburg Herald-Journal)

[Senator Jim DeMint] said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.

“(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense,” he said. “But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.”

Undoubtedly DeMint considers himself to be a good Republican. And, as such, undoubtedly he idolizes Ronald Reagan. So perhaps he should consider these words from the man that is credited for turning around public opinion:

Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.

Were DeMints thinking based on Fears About The Children, then he could rest assured that they are baseless. But they aren’t. Rather, DeMint is concerned about that nebulous “freedom to religion” which seems to be defined as the right to force others to do what your religion dictates.

And so Senator DeMint’s objection to gay people teaching is based in something a bit less susceptible to argument or logic: a desire to harm the lives of gay people and to falsely present them as something to be feared or shunned. Because that is consistent with the values of the god he serves.

Univ. of S. Carolina dumps Rekers from website

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2010

As recently as this morning, here’s what you saw when you searched the website of the University of South Carolina medical school:

Now the site looks a little different:

That was quick.

I’m curious as to the exact criteria for removing any mention of Dr. Rekers. Was it because the University of South Carolina was delighted to have an anti-gay activist as a respected and privileged emeritus professor, but not so delighted to have a man who was revealed to be engaged in behavior that is homosexual in nature?

We have inquired with the office of the President of the University for an explanation.

(hat tip to a reader who caught the change)

The Clear Facts about Proposition 8 and Schools

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2008

Writing for Jurist (a publication of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law), Douglas NeJaime, the Sears Law Teaching Fellow at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, explains in clear and easily understood language exactly why the claims by Yes on 8 about schools having to teach about gay marriage are false.

First, school curriculum is an intensely local decision. Local school boards, elected by local residents, create, revise, and implement curriculum. While public schools must teach core subjects and ensure that students attain a certain level of competence, they enjoy a tremendous amount of discretion. Nowhere is that discretion more expansive than in the domain of health and sex education. In fact, schools in California may decide to provide no such instruction whatsoever. If schools do offer sex education, the California Education Code requires that schools teach “respect for marriage and committed relationships.” But even this statutory provision is silent as to what that instruction should (let alone must) include. Instead, local school districts may include what they like, based on parental feedback, teacher input, and the decisions of politically accountable local officials. Some school districts have for years included material on lesbians and gay men, while many others have omitted such material. That variation will not change (and has not changed) in light of the ability of same-sex couples to marry in California. Schools will continue to exercise their broad discretion and will not operate under any new mandates. Furthermore, parents in California enjoy the right to exempt their children from sex education. This right to opt out will continue to exist, meaning that children won’t receive sex education (gay-inclusive or not) to which their parents object.

He also explains why the claims based on Parker v. Hurley (the King and King ad) are untrue.

At the onset of this campaign I was willing to believe that the Yes on 8 Campaign was sincere and that their ads reflected their beliefs. However, as more and more evidence builds up it has become increasingly obvious that they have abandoned all efforts at honesty and now are flat-out lying.

Education is not the focus of the ads because the supporters are unclear about the law or because they truly believe that schools will undermine parental and community control. As Marcos Breton revealed in an article about Yes on 8′s strategist:

In August, Schubert was excited at the subversive idea of using gay people in his ads – gay people who he claims oppose same-sex marriage. But he decided that was too risky.

Instead, Schubert found his inspiration at a Southern California focus group meeting in early September when an African American man – and Barack Obama supporter – reacted angrily to the idea of gay marriage being taught to kids in public school.

Ever since, Schubert has hammered at that idea in slick commercials with ominous music. “The things that people in politics don’t always appreciate is the power of human emotion,” he said.

CA State Board of Education: Prop 8 Ads are “Misleading”

Timothy Kincaid

October 22nd, 2008

Sick of hearing lies about how Proposition 8 would protect children in schools, and knowing that the ads were deceiving the public, California’s top educators finally had to speak out.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and his predecessor Delaine Eastin spoke out against the campaign today, along with California State Board of Education president Ted Mitchell, saying the proposition is not tied to public schools.

Nor were they mild in their reaction.

Mitchell said he is “disgusted” by the “Yes on 8″ campaign, “in particular this misleading set of advertisements about the impact of Prop. 8 on education. This is political campaigning at its worst,” he said.

O’Connell, in a prepared statement, called the ads “alarming” and “irresponsible.”

“Our public schools are not required to teach about marriage,” he said. “And, in fact, curriculum involving health issues is chosen by local school governing boards.”

Yes on 8′s response? Denial and more lies.

White said the claim that California law allows parents to opt their children out of lessons involving same-sex marriage is a lie.

“The bottom line is that parents don’t have an absolute right to remove their children from a lesson they don’t agree with,” White said.

It doesn’t matter how many legal scholars and education specialists and conservative newspapers debunk their statements, the Yes on 8 Campaign is going to make them anyway. And the sad fact is that those who are inclined to search for a reason to justify their desire to discriminate against gay people will choose to believe that the political spokesman knows more about the education code than the Superintendent of Public Instruction or the State Board of Education.

But those in the campaign must know that what they are claiming isn’t true. They have to be aware that they are relying on lies and fears and a colletion of what-ifs and worst-cases and against-all-evidence claims. Their decision to carry on with this campaign of lies is intentional.

Which makes me wonder.

Does the Mormon Church heirarchy care?

Their endorsement, organization, and pronouncements have led to their members contributing three-fourths of the financing for the airing of these lies. The strength of this campaign is due to their efforts and it would be naive to believe that they have no influence – if not complete control – in the message of the ads.

So I ask: do they believe that they have a moral obligation to speak only the truth? Or does the Mormon Church encourage, support, and endorse blatant dishonesty?

Memphis School Board Supports Homophobic Principal

Timothy Kincaid

May 2nd, 2008

beasley.jpgIt would be nice to believe that school board members would defend the children they are elected to protect. Sadly, when it comes to gay students they too often choose to circle the wagons around the misbehaving principal instead.

This was the response of the Memphis School Board towards the reports of homophobic and inappropriate behavior on the part of Daphne Beasley, principal of Hollis F. Price Middle College High School.

Beasley is accused of compiling a list of potential romantic couples and then using the list to harass and discriminate against two male students who were dating. When the students and their parents could not come to resolution with the principal the ACLU became involved.

Now one would think that a principal calling a parent to out a student – and then telling that parent that she would not allow homosexuality on her campus – would result in a serious questioning of the principal’s judgment. But rather than admit the glaring inappropriateness of her behavior, the board instead sought to defend Ms. Beasley.

Eyewitness News reports that the School Board’s attorneys issued the following letter:

Memphis City Schools is committed to providing its students with the best possible learning environment. Hollis F. Price Middle College is an accelerated high school, which is located on the historically black LeMoyne-Owen College campus. Eligible students may enroll in college classes in pursuit of completing the first two years of college while attending this high school.

Because we have high school students on a college campus, we have to carefully monitor the activities of our students. We are at all times proactive in assuring that our students are provided a safe, nurturing and disciplined learning climate. Unfortunately, in fall 2007, we received numerous complaints from LeMoyne-Owen College faculty and staff that some of our student couples were involved in explicit sexual behavior in public view on the college campus.

In light of this information from LeMoyne-Owen faculty and staff, the principal of Hollis F. Price made several general announcements to the student body that this behavior would not be tolerated. Regrettably, the improper behavior continued. Therefore, the principal felt it appropriate to notify the parents of those children she knew to be involved romantically. This was done in an effort to gain the support of the parents in reinforcing the message that such behavior is in violation of Memphis City Schools’ Student Code of Conduct. The principal did not list any information other than students’ names on her personal call list, and she certainly did not specify the sexual orientation of any student. Additionally, the list was never posted publicly anywhere at the school.

It is the position of Memphis City Schools that the principal did act in an appropriate manner in order to correct a serious issue at the school and that Memphis City Schools has not subjected either of these students to discriminatory treatment.

In the coming days, we will submit a formal response to the ACLU. We look forward to working with them to amicably resolve this matter.

While this letter purports to address the situation, what is most obvious are the things that are missing.

For example, the principal admits that the two boys never behaved inappropriately or ever exhibited any public display of affection, a fact missing from their letter of defense. Nor does it discuss the hostile statements made to Nicholas’ mother. The board’s argument that Beasley appropriately outed and punished the gay students for the misbehavior by straight students is unlikely to hold up to legal scrutiny.

Further, this letter makes no effort to explain the trip denied to one student because his orientation may “embarrass” the school. It simple states that “Memphis City Schools has not subjected either of these students to discriminatory treatment”, as though stating their position makes it so.

The letter pretends that the list “certainly did not specify the sexual orientation of any student”, while ignoring that listing two boys together as a couple most certainly DOES specify their sexual orientation. Was this an attempt at a joke, or just woeful ignorance? And pretending that the principal’s office – which in the small school setting was open to teachers and students – was not “publicly anywhere” is laughable.

This letter insults the intelligence of the reader.

While this sort of double-speak is the regular and preferred form of communication for most anti-gay organizations, they need only to confuse the uninformed and those inclined towards soft thinking on issues. This letter, however, is the official response of a governmental entity and will be subjected to scrutiny. It will not fare well.

If this is the best that the Memphis School Board can do, they should start budgeting right now for a large legal settlement. They would also do well to contact outside counsel to learn of their exposure and the flimsiness of their position. I’m guessing that the Memphis School Board’s attorneys were hired because of their connections and not for their logic or their knowledge of the law.

And if this is to be indicative of the quality of support she will receive, Ms. Beasley may wish to either hire her own separate counsel, or perhaps update her resume.

Blatant Discrimination in Memphis School

Timothy Kincaid

April 30th, 2008

hollandprice.jpgThe Hollis F. Price Middle College High School is undoubtedly a successful school. As a collaboration between the Memphis school district and LeMoyne-Owen College, it provides an opportunity for gifted African-American students to earn credits towards their college degrees while still in high school. And by selecting only 150 of the district’s best students, it avoids many of the problems that plague public schools: fighting, truancy, and falling educational standards.

And Hollis F. Price has admirable stated ideals and intentions including

We believe that every member of our learning community has value and worth and has the right to be respected.

and

All students enrolled at Hollis F. Price Early Middle College are able to participate in many of the approved and available high school and college organizations and activities.

But in her effort to provide an ideal educational environment, Principal Daphne Beasley went way beyond what is appropriate or even legal.

Seeking to eliminate public displays of affection, Beasley asked that students and teachers report suspected romantic couples to her. She then compiled a list and posted it where teachers and other students could read it.

Although this is disturbing in itself, Beasley left all measure of reasonableness when a pair of boys hit her list. Although both boys were A students, had never displayed any public affection, and were an asset to any learning institution, that didn’t stop Beasley from seeking to humiliate them. Memphis Eyewitness News reports

One of the young men, Nicholas, an 11th grader who just made the Dean’s List, spoke with Eyewitness News Everywhere.

“It was actually frightening,” he says, “to see a list with my name on it where not just other teachers could see but students as well.”

Nicholas says his teachers and other students treat him differently as a result of Principal Beasley’s decision and that he and Andrew have both had to deal with verbal assaults. Nicholas was also not allowed to go on a trip to New Orleans to help rebuild homes because, as one of his teacher’s explained, he would “embarrass” the school by engaging in gay affection.

“I really feel that my personal privacy was invaded,” Nicholas says. “I mean, Principal Beasley called my mother and outed me to my mother!”

The ACLU stepped in to support the boys and their mothers. Their letter to the school board clarifies some of Beasley’s motivation.

Specifically, we have been informed that during their telephone call about Nicholas’s inclusion on the “list” as being part of a gay couple, Principal Beasley told [Nicholas’ mother] that she did not like homosexuals and found it hard to deal with homosexuality. Principal Beasley, according to [Nicholas’ mother’s] contemporaneous notes, then informed her that homosexuality would not be tolerated at Hollis F. Price and that she was glad that she didn’t have any kids so she wouldn’t have to deal with these kinds of problems.

Ms. Beasley clearly does not believe that her school’s “all students” statements include gay students, no matter how well behaved. Such an attitude is not conducive to an unbiased and discrimination-free learning environment, and either Principal Beasley should lose it or she should find some form of employment in which she doesn’t have to deal with persons that she does not like.

Kentucky Votes for LIMITED Information on Holocaust

Timothy Kincaid

April 16th, 2008

The legislature in Kentucky has voted to assist in the education of students about the Holocaust and genocide.

The resolution would direct the Department of Education to make curriculum materials available for optional use in public schools by March 2009.

The material would be part of the Kentucky Program of Studies, which has state approval but is not required.

Oh, but not ALL victims of the Holocaust.

The Senate deleted a clause in the House version that cited other people the Nazis deemed “undesirable” because of their “race, nationality, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political ideology.”

Whitaker said he received indications earlier in the session that the reference to sexual orientation was a “red flag” that could have endangered the bill.

It truly amazes me that some people refuse to provide accurate information about the Holocaust lest someone somewhere may know that gay people were also victims of Nazi mentality.

I’m truly flabergasted.

Arizona House Passes Bigot Protection Act

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2008

tshirt.jpgIt infuriates anti-gays that students are not allowed to wear slogans to class that attack their classmates.

Anti-gays are not always staggeringly stupid. For example, they are capable of understanding that “Proud to Be Irish” is not really comparable to “The Irish are Scum”. They can get that a T-Shirt bearing a Star of David and the phrase “Shalom” is not offensive to anyone while “Jews are Jesus-Killers” really has no place in public schools.

But for some reason, they just can’t understand the difference between a T-Shirt with a supportive gay theme and one that condemns and attacks gays. For some reason they confuse pro-Christianity with anti-gay and think that it is appropriate to wear T-Shirts with the language “Homosexuality Is Shameful, Romans 1:27″ and “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned.”

Well now the legislature in Arizona has lept to their defense.

The House approved legislation Monday designed to ensure students expressing their religious beliefs are treated the same as those taking more secular positions.

Now those unfamiliar with the efforts of anti-gays to instill formal homophobia into the classroom may not recognize the reasons for this effort. They may think this is about the Bible Club or about anti-religious bigotry.

If I were ignorant, they might have my sympathies. As someone who was once mocked by a fifth grade teacher in front of class for closing my eyes and saying a silent prayer over my lunch, I know that schools can sometimes be tough on religious kids. And if you doubt that, try being the only boy in gym class in knee-length shorts.

But that’s not what this is about. And in case we have any uncertainty, the bill’s author, Rep. Doug Clark, R-Anthem, clarified.

Similarly, Clark said if students are allowed to wear T-shirts about their sexual orientation, then other students should be permitted to have their own shirts which express a religious viewpoint about such activities.

Yup. This bill is designed specifically to promote “a religious viewpoint” about “such activities”. I wasn’t the only one to notice this.

Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, said he fears the bill would give license to some students to bully or harass others, such as those who might wear T-shirts demeaning homosexual students, which he described as “harassing.”

Clark said schools would remain free to enact and enforce anti-discrimination policies.

“Most in the religious community are going to be level-headed and not be abusive of the rights that are established in the Constitution,” Clark said.

Well now, Rep. Clark, that just isn’t true. If there were no efforts to harass gay students, you wouldn’t need a bill that allows just such action. But somehow I think you already know that.

However, Rep. Clark – and those who are proclaiming a mighty victory in God’s name – let me give you a little warning. You’ve done this before and it didn’t quite work out the way you planned.

Remember?

You passed a federal law, the Equal Access Act, that was intended to protect students who wanted to have Bible Study on campus. And now that is the law that protects Gay-Straight Alliances. To your surprise, shock, and dismay, you found that teen-agers didn’t much want to spend lunch time discussing the lamentations of Jeremiah but that gay kids did want to get together and work towards defending themselves from abuse.

In your rush to impose your faith on others, you forget that those who disagree with you will also get the same right to impose their faith right back.

So rush out and print your anti-gay T-Shirts just in time for the Day of Silence. You can use “Jesus Can Make You Happy, Not Gay” or even “God Condemns Homosexuality” if you like, knowing that their “religious” message is protected.

But if you stop and think you’ll realize that at this moment there’s some enterprising kid trying to decide whether “I Reject Your Fascist Religion” or “Real Christians Don’t Hate” will sell more T-Shirts before class. For every kid that is so devout that he wants to wear a message of hostility and condemnation of gays, there are many more who will mock you and your faith. When you open up the schools to “religious viewpoints” about “activities”, you aren’t going to like the results.

I figure gay boys could just wear the religious T-Shirt above and watch you and the other anti-gays work yourselves into a tizzy.

Virginia Schools Get their Bird Books Back

Timothy Kincaid

March 5th, 2008

tango.jpgFew things ruffle the feathers of anti-gays more than And Tango Makes Three, the true story of a pair of male penguins that hatched an abandoned egg and raised a chick. Or as OneNewsNow tells us:

Peter LaBarbera with Americans for Truth About Homosexuality says he is not surprised that the homosexual propaganda piece is still showing up in elementary school libraries.

“One of the more insidious aspects of the homosexual agenda has been its willingness to manipulate young people’s minds to promote homosexual behavior,” he warns. “We shouldn’t be talking about homosexuality to kids who are years away from understanding … what
normal sex is ….”

So one anti-gay got all flustered about gay penguins and decided to cause a flap at the Loudon County, Virginia, elementary schools.

The complaint was filed May 28 by Sherrie Sawyer, a teaching assistant at Sugarland Elementary, according to records the school system provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Sawyer identified herself as a Leesburg resident and a “concerned parent and assistant teacher” in the documents she submitted to school officials as part of her complaint and the two appeals she filed with Hatrick.

At first it looked like her complaint wouldn’t fly:

Following school system policy, the principal convened an advisory committee of principals, librarians, teachers and parents to review the book. The group deemed it acceptable, and the principal concurred. The parent appealed. Another committee of administrators, librarians and parents reviewed the book. That committee, too, recommended that it remain in the collection.

But Schools Superintendent Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick gave it wings by overruling them, taking the book out of circulation at 16 schools, and putting it on a restricted list. And the anti-gays felt their spirits soar. They couldn’t help but crow about their victory.

But now it turns out that Hatrick’s decision has had a bit of a fall. First he had to hop back:

Because the parent’s challenge pertained to the book’s availability at Sugarland Elementary, Hatrick said, the decision applies only to that school, not the 13 other elementary schools that have purchased the book. Librarians at those schools can decide whether to return it to shelves, he said.

Then the School Board took the wind out of his wings when they took away his ability to remove books unilaterally. Then Sawyer’s goose was really cooked.

[Hatrick] discovered the parent objecting to the book is not a parent at the school that received the complaint

So now Hatrick has learned: if you cater to the screeching of the anti-gay flock, you can end up with egg on your face.

A Completely Useless Legislator

Timothy Kincaid

February 1st, 2008

WE WERE DUPED

The story below is, as best we know, accurate. But the photo we originally used was photoshopped. We’ve replaced it with Stacey Campfield’s official photo.

campfield1.jpgA Tennessee legislator doesn’t much like the gays. Per the Memphis Flyer

Representative Stacey Campfield of Knoxville filed a bill last week that would prevent public elementary and middle schools from allowing “any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.”

However, it’s not much worth getting riled up about. Campfield biggest contribution to the Tennessee House is warming his chair. As the Knoxville News Sentinel noted (on an unrelated but no less ridiculous issue)

Campfield has failed to win passage of any legislation, much of it controversial, that he has sponsored in recent years.

I guess Campfield is Tennessee’s official state loon.