In some ways, anti-gay hate groups have polished their rhetoric over the years, but often times they remind that they still believe the same old tired myths about homosexuality. At the core of this mythology is the belief that homosexuality is chosen, and thus it must be coerced from young people. That’s exactly what the Alliance Defense Fund believes was happening in Erie, Illinois.
The Erie Community Unit School District had adopted some curriculum resources from GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network. Parents complained about one book in particular, Todd Parr’s “The Family Book,” which mentions on one page that “some families have two moms or two dads.” The controversy that erupted when the school board elected to remove that book and all other GLSEN materials reignited the national conservative war against GLSEN — a war against LGBT youth and the children of same-sex families.
This week, for no apparent reason except to prolong the conflict, the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund issued a legal memo supporting the Illinois school district. ADF’s attorney Jeremy Tedesco explained why he believes GLSEN’s materials are dangerous:
TEDESCO: Public schools should not be coerced by outside groups into indoctrinating students into homosexual behavior by exposing them to inappropriate sexual materials. Schools are supposed to be places of learning, not places where schools push propaganda on students. The school is right under these circumstances to prohibit access to the GLSEN materials and not cave to the ACLU’s demands.
By this logic, any kid who comes to school and mentions that she has two daddies is “indoctrinating” her classmates into “homosexual behavior.” The claims are simply outlandish. Having same-sex parents is neither inappropriate nor sexual, but Tedesco’s comments reflect how conservatives insist on equating anything gay with sex.
GLSEN’s mission has always been to make sure that students feel “valued and respected” regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This means creating visibility and education to counter the ignorance and stigma present in society that has been clearly demonstrated to harm students. ADF, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, and the Family Research Council — all of whom have come to Erie’s defense — are intent on scaring parents by capitalizing on their own lack of education about sexuality. By demonizing GLSEN, they believe they can maintain the toxic climate in schools and somehow discourage young people from “becoming” LGBT. After decades of trying to erase LGBT people, all they’ve done is create harm, but they persist with their lies nevertheless.