Pro-gay booklet for schools draws ire
By Andrea Billups
The Washington Times - November 24, 1999
booklet released yesterday by a group of school psychologists, counselors, educators and doctors that says homosexuality is normal and not "mentally unhealthy" has angered several conservative groups.

The conservatives say the report is not based on science and sends a one-sided message to children.

The 12-page booklet, which was mailed to all of the nation's public school districts yesterday by the Just the Facts Coalition, censors important facts about homosexuality and fails to address health risks and concerns from those who believe the homosexual lifestyle is wrong, the pro-family groups said.

"This is yet another attempt by the homosexual lobby to silence any views on homosexuality but its own," said Janet Parshall, chief spokeswoman for the Family Research Council (FRC).

"Parents do not want their children indoctrinated with pro-homosexuality propaganda," Mrs. Parshall said. "Their children's physical, spiritual and mental well-being is at stake."

The booklet was distributed by a coalition representing the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The coalition also includes the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

The coalition said the booklet, "Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth," represents their views that "homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a 'cure.' "

The booklet contends homosexual students can be harmed by therapy aimed at changing their orientation because "it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation."

One chapter cautions school officials that "endorsement or promotion" of religious ministries aimed at overcoming homosexuality "by officials or school employees of a public school district in a school-related context could raise constitutional problems."

John Paulk, a homosexuality and gender analyst for the Colorado-based Christian organization Focus on the Family, expressed concern that endorsements by teachers unions will ensure that many schools make the booklet a part of their curriculums.

"Homosexuality should not be discussed in schools and should not be taught as a normal alternative," Mr. Paulk said. Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, agrees and calls the booklet an "intimidating document" that will be used to threaten educators.

"It seems to me that this is a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate principals from talking about the other side of homosexuality -- that healthy change is possible," he said. "If you are going to have gay activists in schools, then the other side should be told, too."

Bruce Hunter, director of public affairs for the American Association of School Administrators, which is also a part of the coalition, told the New York Times that school officials likely will consider the "community values" of their respective areas.

"There are many communities in this country that are just too conservative for that, and I trust superintendents to know their communities," Mr. Hunter said.

Mr. Paulk's group is urging school districts to present alternative information by the Encino, Calif.-based National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group of psychologists and psychiatrists who believe homosexuality can be changed or avoided.

Children who may be sexually confused and seek help from school counselors need to be told there are people who can help them, Mr. Paulk said.

The FRC released two new publications yesterday to counter the coalition's booklet: "Top 10 Strategies Used by Homosexual Activists in Schools," and "How to Protect Your Children from Pro-Homosexuality Propaganda in Schools."

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Times

© Copyright 1999