May 26, 2011 4:49 pm ET - by Carlos Maza
Fox News is once again jumping at the opportunity to fear-monger about gay indoctrination in schools this week, spotlighting a gender diversity lesson at a California elementary school that features transgender clownfish and single-sex geckos.
During the May 26 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Fox host Martha MacCallum invited Edward Dragan, school safety expert and education management consultant, and Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) to discuss the lesson:
Not surprisingly, Perkins resorts almost immediately to accusing the school of trying to “indoctrinate” children “into homosexuality”:
PERKINS: As a parent of five children, I agree with Edward, that the stated purpose here to deal with the issue of bullying. Our children should be able to go into a safe environment. They should be safe from bullying, and they should also be safe from indoctrination into homosexuality. We’re talking about kids that are graduating from wearing Garanimals to having their sexuality compared to animals.
As ridiculous as it is, Perkins’ assertion that kids can be taught to be gay or transgender by learning about homosexuality in the classroom is actually pretty standard for anti-gay groups when it comes to discussing LGBT tolerance in public schools.
Perkins’ claim that he’s also interested in stopping anti-LGBT bullying, however, is a complete joke. Under the guise of protecting “religious freedom,” Perkins and his organization have fought tooth and nail to undermine any legislation or school curriculum that attempts to promote tolerance towards LGBT students.
For people like Perkins, any program that even attempts to depict homosexuality in a less-than-negative light qualifies as pro-gay indoctrination.
Perkins goes on to compare teaching kids about gender diversity in nature to encouraging kids to avoid monogamy:
PERKINS: I mean, how far are we willing to go with this? When you consider that only seven percent of the animal kingdom is monogamous in their sexual relationships, is that what we’re saying our kids should aspire to? I mean this is really outlandish.
There are two obvious problems with this comparison.
First, Perkins is conflating promoting being LGBT with simply informing students that LGBT people exist and should be treated with respect. Teaching students that it’s not unnatural for LGBT people to exist is not the equivalent of encouraging them to try it themselves.
Second, and more importantly, students are not being bullied for being monogamous -- they’re being bullied for being LGBT. There’s good reason to teach kids to be accepting and tolerant towards people with different sexual orientations or gender identities. Studies have shown that anti-LGBT bullying is linked to increased suicide rates, HIV, and STDs among LGBT youth.
MacCallum then advances a silly but increasingly popular argument used to prevent kids from participating in anti-bullying programs in school: there’s just not enough time to learn about reading, math, AND respecting LGBT people:
MACCALLUM: I just want to interject one other thought to this. As a parent of three kids, I think I agree with you both. It’s very important to teach understanding about people and to obviously warn kids against any kind of bullying that goes on in schools and it does. But when I look across the country and I see the number of children who are proficient in reading and math, okay, my question to this school system is “have you taught these children the things that it’s your job to teach them and why are we spending two days having this discussion in school? Have you completed all of your other missions and you’re so freed up that now you have time to discuss clownfish and geckos? You know, are all the bases covered?”
For the record, each lesson took one hour, not two days.
MacCallum’s limited understanding of the role of school teachers would undermine a whole host of anti-bullying programs.
If teachers shouldn’t waste time teaching students to respect different sexual orientations and gender identities, then why should they have to spend time promoting racial tolerance in class? Why should they have to waste time promoting tolerance towards women or people with disabilities?
Taken to their logical endpoints, Perkins’ and MacCallum’s view of the “missions” teachers are assigned to have grave implications not just for at-risk LGBT youth but for all disempowered or victimized minority groups.
FYI: This is the third time in just over a month that Fox News has invited Tony Perkins to spew his anti-gay hate speech on their television shows and website. Perkins has called gay activists terrorists, pushed the myth that gay men are more likely to be pedophiles than straight men, and promoted ex-gay therapy.
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