As part of its campaign to redefine “tolerance” to include the tolerance and affirmation of defamation, the national antigay network Focus on the Family has allied with an organization of litigious antigay attorneys to release an “Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick” (PDF file).
- appears to defend malicious gossip and incitement to violence as if they were protected forms of free speech
- ridicules the notion that orchestrated defamation and intimidation against youths are “offensive” and cause “emotional distress”
- calls upon officials and the public to ignore the motive (bigotry) that underlies much youth violence — and, consequently, to ignore the actions of institutions that sponsor that bigotry.
- states that bullies should not be educated to think differently and less hatefully about their intended victims.
- deters violence-prevention advocates by threatening to sue them if they confront the truth that much of the nation’s school violence occurs as a result of specific racial and sexual prejudices that serve to incite violence.
Under the terms of this Christian Right legal manifesto, truthful teachers and officials who courageously oppose specific forms of violence are smeared as opponents of free speech and religious faith; the manifesto implies that lawsuits shall be forthcoming against these defenders of youth.
While obstructing opponents of violence, the manifesto also defends violence committed by bullies via online channels from off-campus locations; forbids investigation of bullying without the consent of the bully’s parents; and abolishes anonymity for crime victims below legal age.
Finally, the yardstick demands that private schools be made exempt from antiviolence laws. And the policy discourages any requirement for public-school teachers to report bullying.
In short, the manifesto advances a violent political agenda, even as it claims to oppose any agenda.
Focus’ partner in this tract, the “Alliance Defending Freedom,” was until recently known as the Alliance Defense Fund — an antigay legal-attack squad that files frivolous lawsuits to intimidate and silence opponents of antigay violence and defamation, especially in public schools.
In contrast to the Focus-ADF rationalization for school censorship and unpunished violence, a study this year by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network found that LGBT-inclusive school curricula related to a less-hostile school experience for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth as well as increased feelings of belonging” without limiting the free-speech rights of others.
Addendum: Rob Boston of Talk To Action observes:
What’s most offensive about the FOF-ADF document is that it purports to outline the differences between “good” anti-bullying policies and “bad” ones. In fact, these organizations don’t support any anti-bullying efforts at all. Schools that adopt their suggestions would be left with toothless policies that give budding fundamentalist bigots license to harass anyone they want. If they resort to physical violence, the school might be able to stop them — maybe.
And remember, this is being done in the name of the Christian faith. I’m very familiar with the “faith-based” initiative, but faith-based bullying is something new entirely. I don’t claim to be a theologian, but I doubt Jesus would approve.