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Right-Wingers Still Pushing Myths About "Gay Indoctrination"

April 13, 2011 1:54 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Once again, it appears that anti-gay conservatives are working to portray any attempt to combat anti-LGBT bullying as an insidious new effort to indoctrinate America’s school children.

WorldNetDaily recently sent its subscribers an email containing a message from the anti-gay group “Public Advocate of the United States,” warning them of an emerging threat in Congress:

The Radical Homosexuals infiltrating the United States Congress have a plan:

Indoctrinate an entire generation of American children with pro-homosexual propaganda and eliminate traditional values from American society.

Their ultimate dream is to create a new America based on sexual promiscuity in which the values you and I cherish are long forgotten.

In case it isn’t clear, the group is referring to H.R. 998, the “Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011,” a bill which was introduced into the House in March and already has 126 co-sponsors. According to Public Advocate, the bill “will turn America’s schools into indoctrination centers and its classrooms into social laboratories.”

The bill itself is relatively straight forward; It would allow the federal government to withhold funds from public schools that exclude or discriminate against LGBT students. According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service’s (CRS) analysis, the bill:

  • Prohibits public school students from being excluded from participating in, or subject to discrimination under, any federally-assisted educational program on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or that of their associates.
  • Considers harassment to be a form of discrimination.
  • Prohibits retaliation against anyone for opposing conduct they reasonably believe to be unlawful under this Act.
  • Authorizes federal departments and agencies to enforce these prohibitions by cutting off the educational assistance of recipients found to be violating them.
  • Allows an aggrieved individual to assert a violation of this Act in a judicial proceeding and recover reasonable attorney’s fees should they prevail.
  • Deems a state’s receipt of federal educational assistance for a program to constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity for conduct prohibited under this Act regarding such program.

According to the text of the bill, “harassment” is defined as:

(3) HARASSMENT- The term ‘harassment’ means conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from a public school education program or activity, or to create a hostile or abusive educational environment at a public school, including acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility, if such conduct is based on—

(A)   a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity; or

(B)   the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of a person or persons with whom a student associates or has associated.

Now compare the CRS’s description of the bill with Public Advocate’s. According to the group’s email, the bill, which they have renamed the “Homosexual Classrooms Act,” would: 

*** Require schools to teach appalling homosexual acts so “homosexual students” don’t feel “singled out” during already explicit sex-ed classes; 

*** Spin impressionable students in a whirlwind of sexual confusion and misinformation, even peer pressure to “experiment” with the homosexual “lifestyle;” 

*** Exempt homosexual students from punishment for propositioning, harassing, or even sexually assaulting their classmates, as part of their specially-protected right to “freedom of self-expression;”

*** Force private and even religious schools to teach a pro-homosexual curriculum and purge any reference to religion if a student claims it creates a “hostile learning environment” for homosexual students.

To put it as nicely as possible, Public Advocate’s description of H.R. 998 is extremely misleading. Unfortunately, their failure to accurately depict the bill isn’t unique. Several other right-wing groups and activists have been promoting misinformation about the bill since it was first introduced into the House in January of 2010. According to Donny Shaw at, conservatives have spouted falsehoods about the bill in order to “flesh out a conspiracy theory that the Obama Administration is trying to turn American youth gay” (note: Shaw is talking about the reaction to the 2010 version of the bill):

[N]owhere does the bill give any federal officials any new authority to influence the content of what is taught in public schools. Their only new authority would be for blocking funds for programs that specifically discriminate against or exclude children because they are straight, gay or transgender. There is no room in that authority for creating programs or mandating curriculums. It’s simply not in the bill and not supported by any honest interpretation of the bill’s provisions.

The issue of school “indoctrination” has been a major thorn in the side of LGBT activists at both the state and federal levels for many years. Right-wing groups have consistently (and relatively successfully) raised the specter of in-school “indoctrination” in order to scare pro-equality conservatives and moderates into voting against protections and rights for LGBT people.

Reactions to bills like H.R. 998 reveal the importance of defining what “gay indoctrination” actually looks like. It is vitally important that LGBT advocates make clear the difference between imaginary plots to sexualize children and real, effective efforts to prevent violence and bullying against LGBT youth. 


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