The self-described “education reform” group StudentsFirst, headed up by former Washington, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, has recently forayed into pro-LGBT and anti-bullying activism. It filmed its own “It Gets Better” video and also opened up its blog for anti-bullying activism. The four most recent blog entries on its site are all about these issues:
StudentsFirst’s pro-LGBT activism is both welcome and needed. The bullying of LGBT youth is a national shame and it will take as diverse a movement as possible to battle it. However, as Daily Kos’s Laura Clawson and AMERICABlog’s John Aravosis point out, Rhee’s group is spending $70,000 to defend GOP Michigan Rep. Paul Scott against a potential recall election, and Scott is rabidly anti-gay. Scott even campaigned on making it a “priority” to stop transgender individuals from changing their sex on their driver’s license:
While running for State Representative, Scott criticized his opponent for accepting donations from gay rights groups. He called those groups “far left and radical homosexual groups.” While running for Secretary of State, the Republican was criticized for gay baiting by the Log Cabin Republicans. He emailed supporters listing his top four priorities which included: “I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance.”
Yes, that should help get the economy back on its feet. During the same Secretary of State race, according to Log Cabin, “Scott touted the support of Former Bush 2004 Michigan Social Conservative Outreach Chair, Bill Voorheis, who hunts people down at conventions and other GOP functions to confront them about their supposed homosexuality.”
It is outrageous that StudentsFirst would, on the one hand, engage in positive LGBT rights activism, and on the other hand, sink tens of thousands of dollars into a legislator who openly derides LGBT people and uses anti-LGBT rhetoric as a political weapon.
One of the authors of one of the StudentsFirst blog posts, Scott Conwell, distances himself from the group’s agenda in our comments thread: “A quick comment from one of the blogs authors. If you look at my article and see the comments you will see that I am not a Rhee or studentsfirst.org supporter. I was simply taking the opportunity to get a Progressive message inside a jilted organization. Please do not see my post as an endorsement of Rhee. The fact that this has been picked up by Think Progress is viewed as a victory by me! Now maybe we can see just how Rhee and her organization speak out of both sides of their mouth! In addition, as a Michigan resident I IN NO WAY endorse Rep. Paul Scott.”