Vander Plaats: Iowa’s LGBT Conference Discriminates Against Straight Students

The FAMiLY LEADER’s Bob Vander Plaats is again speaking out against the 7th Annual Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth, which Gov. Terry Branstad (R) isn’t even attending. The fact that his title in part of the conference’s name is enough for Vander Plaats to be so outraged he needed to pen another anti-gay editorial in the Des Moines Register about it. Having already accused the conference of “recruiting” questioning youth, he now suggests the governor is handing out “sex devices” (condoms) and discriminating against straight youth:

The governor’s only response, thus far, to our respectful requests to reconsider the use of his name, title and support of this conference, is a laugh. To clarify his laughter, his chief of staff uses words to belittle those holding the governor accountable. The governor and his staff attempt to validate the governor’s full support of this conference by stating the conference is about anti-bullying, not about advancing homosexual behavior.

Really? If this is sincerely the case, then this conference itself discriminates and excludes the majority of the students who are frequently bullied within our schools. Statistics show the vast majority (around 90 percent) of bullying incidents are because of race, physical attributes and other categories, not because of sexual identification.

Without a citation, it’s unclear what “statistics” Vander Plaats is referencing, but even if his claim holds up, it’s completely irrelevant to the discussion. He is simply playing a numbers game to disguise the legitimate concern of anti-LGBT bullying. According to GLSEN’s 2009 national climate survey, 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment in school, so whether or not other forms of bullying are taking place does not change the real concern for LGBT youth. This conference specifically targets those young people and the challenges they face, but Vander Plaats would prefer the conversation treat them like they don’t even exist.