Teaching Tolerance

American Family Association and Liberty Counsel are having a fit because an East Pennsylvania high school has an anti-bullying program that is supported by students, parents and faculty. I have never fully understood why Christian groups become so agitated over anti-bullying programs.

Some years ago, Focus on the Family complained that anti-bullying materials were biased. AFA would probably claim some form of homosexual indoctrination. The crazy people at Liberty Counsel figure that these programs promote homosexuality and “transgenderism.” It is like arguing with a Trump supporter. No amount of evidence will ever convince these people that sexuality is not optional. Even common sense does not prevail. Would any kid volunteer to be transgender or gender nonconforming?

Gender identity and sexual orientation are neither voluntary nor contagious. Hate, in contrast, is both.

Whatever their reasons, anti-bullying programs drive these Christian conservatives batshit crazy. They got even crazier Monday night at a meeting of the East Penn School Board in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley region. The meeting room was packed and speaker after speaker (students and parents) rose to voice support for LGBT students and to direct some anger at American Family Association. They also accused the Lehigh Valley Tea party and a school board member, Carol Allen, of fomenting intolerance. I have not received a reply to an email sent to Ms. Allen.

Some of those who oppose the program were quite effective at advocating for anti-bullying initiatives. They provide evidence of the need for teaching tolerance. As local media reported:

One student, Aiden Levinson of Zionsville [class of 2019], said he was the student who vetted the videos and at the previous meeting had been called a homophobic slur by someone objecting to them. Levinson said it gave him a small taste of what LGBT students must go through.

Diane Gramley
Hate group leader Diane

Gramley-AFA PA

Young Mr. Levinson has a working cerebral cortex. Meanwhile, Diane Gramley, head of AFA Pennsylvania does not. She wants the videos released to parents for their approval. If she hasn’t already, it is standard operating procedure to ask for parents to have the right to opt their children out of anything to do with the videos. That defeats the whole purpose since the children of people like Gramley are most in need of some real-world exposure.

On June 22, Liberty Counsel sent a verbose letter (below the fold) to the school superintendent. Therein, Richard Mast writes:

I am writing to request that the East Penn School District (“District”) immediately
provide to all parents requesting them the specific links to the four pro-homosexuality
YouTube videos shown by the District to 2,800 high school students at Emmaus High School,
as part of the District’s “Unity Week” and “Day of Silence” promotional activities. The videos
are described in the attached letter from Emmaus High School (“EHS”) Principal Kate Kieres.

“Pro-homosexuality?” These people will be designated a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center in perpetuity. I hope that the school board ignores the request. If they sue, the likelihood is that it will be dismissed for lack of an actionable claim and the school board probably has insurance to cover the legal expense. I will send a note to the school superintendent with a link to the SPLC’s site.

The classy Richard Lyle Mast sent a letter by email on Friday demanding a response by “the close of business” Saturday. Yet another Liberty Counsel dim bulb.

All of this is gratuitous noise created by Christian Supremacists who aspire to have public policy consistent with dominion theology (Christian governance based on biblical law). There is nothing sinister in promoting tolerance. There aren’t two sides to a controversy which presupposes that both positions are legitimate. Calling tolerance “pro-homosexual” is a pretty good indication of a lack of legitimacy.

Liberty Counsel’s threatening letter to East Penn School Board by David Hart on Scribd

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.