By Don Hinkle
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Homosexual activists who sponsored a Massachusetts workshop that has exploded into a national scandal because it used taxpayer dollars to teach children how to engage in homosexual acts have made public schools in the South a priority in their nationwide quest to have homosexuality taught in classrooms.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), whose controversial March 25 workshop at Tufts University ignited a firestorm in Massachusetts, graduated 15 homosexual activists from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas from its Leadership Training Institute in College Park, Md., last year. Also, it recently opened an Atlanta field office to promote toleration of homosexuality.
The institute "is a critical part of the work to end homophobia in Southern schools," GLSEN said in a news release announcing the activists' graduation. "Change in Southern schools has come slowly."
Established in 1994 and now with 85 chapters nationwide, GLSEN describes itself as the nation's largest organization combating anti-homosexual bias in America's schools.
But nationally known author and former homosexual John Paulk says GLSEN's real agenda is to normalize homosexuality to children, kindergarten though grade 12, and to put homosexuality on an equal level with heterosexuality. Paulk, chairman of the board of Exodus International, a Christian organization that assists homosexuals who desire a lifestyle change, said GLSEN is making strides by creating Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in schools.
GSAs and Southern Baptists have already clashed. "For too long the church has been quiet," said Clyde Lewis, pastor of Concord Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., who led opposition to the establishment of a GSA chapter at nearby McKinley High School earlier this year.
"We are Southern Baptists and we stand with the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention in opposing homosexuality, but I have not seen the support to fight this in our city," Lewis said. "The Bible says homosexuality is wrong and that it is an abomination. God has ordained me to take a stand."
Lewis, who pastors the African American congregation of about 60 members, praised the principal at McKinley High for taking a Christian stand on the issue despite orders from superiors. For now, GSA is meeting at the school, but after school hours. Lewis is organizing a rally for the start of the new school year in August in an effort to draw more attention to the situation.
"The rally is to encourage the school to make God the center of its activity and to ask the children to help us get the Bible back in the school," Lewis said.
GSLEN caught the eye of concerned parents in March by sponsoring -- with Massachusetts Department of Education funds -- a workshop that gave educators and children -- some as young as age 12 -- descriptions of homosexual acts laced with graphic language and accompanied with diagrams. Another class criticized "the religious right" and featured a video that likened the views of conservative Christians toward homosexuals with those of Nazis against the Jews.
The homosexual instruction workshop was secretly taped by Scott Whiteman, a concerned parent and executive director of the Parents Rights Coalition of Waltham, Mass. When state officials did not respond to the concerns of parents troubled by the workshop, Whiteman made his tape available to the media.
GSLEN was able to obtain a court ruling barring Whiteman from distributing the audiotape. That ignited a fierce debate over the First Amendment in the Boston news media and a judge subsequently lifted the ban on distributing the tapes, except for Whiteman and a colleague, Brian Camenker. Free copies of the tape may be obtained from a conservative journal, The Massachusetts News, P.O. Box 812844, Wellesley, MA 02482; by fax request at (781) 239-1193; or by emailing a request to Tapes@massnews.com.
In one of the workshop sessions, "What They Didn't Tell You About Queer Sex & Sexuality In Health Class: A Workshop For Youth Only, Ages 14-21," a trio of homosexual presenters coaxed approximately 20 children into openly -- and in graphic detail -- discussing homosexual sex.
At one point, the session focused on whether oral sex was sex. To which the presenter replied, "If that's not sex, then the number of times I've had sex has dramatically decreased; from a mountain to a valley, baby."
Later in the session children were asked to role play, with one student playing a young lesbian who is thinking about having sex with another woman, while another student played the "hip" GSA adviser who offered counseling that included discussions about lesbian sex and oral-vaginal contact.
After a five-minute break so children could write down questions, the meeting resumed. The first question was: "What is fisting?"
A student offered a crude explanation that drew winces from a few of his fellow students. One of the presenters stepped in, saying, "A little-known fact about fisting, you don't make a fist, like this. It's like this," forming his hand into the shape of a tear drop rather than a balled fist.
A teenage student asked why someone would want to do such a thing, that it did not seem appealing to him. One of the presenters said that fisting "often gets a really bad rap," but that it was "an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with."
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called the workshop "perverse." He said it qualified "as child abuse" and was a flagrant disregard for the rights of children and their parents. He added that if the children were there by parental consent, "then they are unfit parents."
"This is a clear violation of what a public government agency ought to be doing," Land said.
When the actual content of the workshop became public, outraged parents called for an investigation of the state Department of Education. Two of the presenters -- both education department employees -- were fired. Education Commissioner David Driscoll apologized and said the workshop was of a "prurient nature and not educational, and what we heard suggested that the discussion contributed nothing to the student's understanding of how to avoid AIDS and HIV."
The controversy has caused Democratic Gov. Paul Cellucci to come under attack for his close relationship with homosexual activists in Massachusetts. One of the fired employees charged in mid-July that Cellucci approved of the workshop. Cellucci budgets $1.5 million a year for his "Governor's Commission for Gay and Lesbian Youth." The Senate has threatened to kill the $1.5 million appropriation because of the flap, but Cellucci said he would veto any such action. The Massachusetts News reports that the governor's commission has used the "safe schools" mantra and the state's money to convince more than 180 schools in Massachusetts to accept GSA clubs.
In another workshop session titled, "Combat the Religious Wrong," attendees were directed to a website (www.wiredstrategies.com) which compares religious people to Nazis. The website contains headlines such as: "Nazi Anti-Jewish Speech vs. Religious Right Anti-Gay Speech: Are They Similar?"
The session's lecturer, Leif Mitchell, is the community educator/trainer for pro-abortion Planned Parenthood of Connecticut and is on the national board of GLSEN. Mitchell took the opportunity to outline his strategies for combating the religious right "in your community:"
-- Focus on violence prevention. Always fall back to the issues of safety to explain why GSAs is needed in schools.
-- Focus on legal perspectives. Mitchell cited a 1996 lawsuit that was settled for $900,000 focusing on a student, Jamie Dboznia, who was not protected from gay bashing at his school. "Focusing on legal perspectives also helps to bring the focus back to safe schools," Mitchell said.
-- Put a face on homophobia. "Matthew Sheppard is a good example," he said. "But he is not the most diverse person you can use. He only got all that publicity because he was white."
-- Use statistics effectively.
-- Build coalitions with likeminded groups. He suggested the NAACP, Coalition for Democracy, The Anti-Defamation League and Planned Parenthood.
"Remember," Mitchell said, "it is very important to tie the religious right to hatred."
Kevin Jennings, co-founder of GLSEN, was the workshop's keynote speaker and he attacked religion as well, even using the gospel to do so. Utilizing the story of the widow's mite, Jennings attempted to motivate the children to do all they can to support homosexuality.
"This is ridiculous," The Massachusetts News quoted one disbelieving teacher in attendance as saying. "I know that Bible passage and it is a direct reference to giving all you can to God. How ironic that GLSEN is preaching hatred towards religious people, attacking religion as 'wrong,' and at the same time they are quoting Jesus and twisting the scripture."
Other workshop topics included: "Ask the Transsexuals;" "Getting Gay Issues Included in Elementary School Staff;" "From Lesbos to Stonewall: Incorporating Sexuality into a World History Curriculum;" "Teachers Coming Out, Diesel Dykes and Lipstick Lesbians: Defining and Exploring Butch/Femme Identity;" Strategies and Curriculum Ideas for Addressing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual Issues in a High School English Curriculum;" and "Starting a Gay/Straight Alliance in Your School."
While GLSEN gets some funding from taxpayers, it also gets additional financial support through other avenues. For example, it received a $100,000 grant in 1997 from the Gill Foundation, a Colorado Springs-based organization founded in 1994 by Tim Gill, chairman of Quark Inc., a Denver-based computer software company.
GLSEN also provides books -- as requested by librarians -- about homosexuals and their lifestyle.
In mid-July, GLSEN teamed-up with Amnesty International and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Resource Center to conduct a training session at San Francisco State University titled, "A Human Rights Model for Integrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Education into the School Experience."
The SBC's Richard Land called GLSEN's work "appalling" and urged parents and students to "contend with them in public policy."
"Parents can still have control over their schools," Land said. "The homosexuals will be outvoted, since they are incapable of having children."
Posted with permission of Baptist Press (BP). Copyright 2000.