An editorial in today’s LA Times pushes back against the absurd mental contortions of Tony Perkins and his cohorts as they seek to pretend they care about all students, while opposing the very programs meant to address bullying in our schools:
As The Times recently observed, harassment of gay and lesbian students is part of a larger problem, and therefore, schools should pursue comprehensive anti-bullying efforts. That doesn’t mean teachers and administrators shouldn’t recognize anti-gay bullying as a distinct issue rooted not only in adolescent cruelty but in cultural condemnations of homosexuality. When they do so, however, they are accused by some conservatives of taking sides in a culture war.
An extreme example was a recent article by Tony Perkins president of the Family Research Council. Perkins accused the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and similar organizations of exploiting the suicides of gay teenagers “to push their agenda of demanding not only tolerance of homosexual individuals but active affirmation of homosexual conduct and their efforts to redefine the family.” For good measure, he said, “the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment,” may be creating despair that can lead to suicide by telling homosexuals that they are “‘born gay’ and can never change.”
Perkins’ characterization of GLSEN is unfair to the point of absurdity. But it is true that many of those who decry the bullying of gay and lesbian students also believe that schools should accept and affirm their identity, and treat homophobia with the same opprobrium with which they view racism. These advocates also believe, rightly, that schools shouldn’t endorse the theory that gays and lesbians can be converted to heterosexuality, a notion dismissed by psychiatrists and psychologists.
Precisely. When the Religious Right talks about the Evil Homosexual Activists trying to push our “agenda,” one must always remember that at least 80% of what they say is code-speak. When they discuss a “homosexual agenda,” what they’re really saying is that we should ignore all of the scientific data, all of the real world consequences, and instead push programs which conform to the Religious Right’s disproven ideological worldview. The “agenda” here is a healthy respect for reality and a desire to protect ALL children from bullying in school. The fact that this involves truths which are inconvenient to Tony Perkins ‘n’ Pals should not be treated as a problem for anyone but Tony Perkins.