Emphasize Equal Access
Do not approach school officials about the “evils of the gay agenda” or recite from religious texts such as the Bible. Instead, emphasize the need for diversity and respect for all perspectives, including ex-gays.
Equal Access laws require that school administration treat requests by after school student clubs to sponsor events and bring ex-gay speakers on campus in the same way it treats requests from other groups. Usually, student governments have the final say in adding new clubs, but they cannot discriminate against any viewpoint. Legally, if a school allows non-curricular after school clubs at all, they must allow ALL perspectives. However, the same rules do not apply to classroom discussions or assemblies. (Click Here for a PDF document on Equal Access Laws).
Here are some steps you can take to insure that homosexual issues are addressed fairly in your school:
1-If you are a parent, ask your child’s principal to make a note in your child’s cumulative file stating that if the subject of homosexuality is ever addressed in his classroom, you wish to be notified in advance. You can also download a Form that let’s your school administrator know that you want parental permission to be sought prior to student involvement in any extracurricular activity.
2-Write a letter to the school board informing them that you wish to address them at their next meeting. When you address them, ask them to pass simple legislation which requires that if the subject of homosexuality is ever addressed in your school, both sides of the debate will be given equal time. For a sample letter you can write to your school board members, Click Here. For an example of proper wording for equal time legislation, Click Here. For a petition you can circulate in favor of the equal time policy, Click Here.
3-If your school has already had a homosexual group such as GLSEN, GLAAD, or PFLAG give a presentation on homosexual issues, ask your school's principal to allow Inqueery equal time. If Mr. Thompson is not available to speak, Inqueery can assist you in finding qualified presenters in your area. (Petitions, purpose statements, and draft constitutions of gay/straight alliances [GSA] can be requested by any citizen, this is one way to find out of your school has a GSA and, if so, what their stated goals are.) If schools refuse, contact liberty counsel.
4-Donate books and videos which present the ex-gay perspective to your school library, we reccomend choosing books from Inqueery’s Reccomended Reading list. The video we reccomend is Warren Throckmortons’ Documentary.
Never Go Alone
Whether you’re approaching a teacher, the principal, or the school board, you should never go alone. School administrators can very easily “blow off” one person’s concern, but it’s very hard to ignore a group of parents or students. Before you do anything, find at least a few other people who have the same concerns as you do, you may even be able to find teachers who are willing to stand behind you! In some cases, you might be able to get help find other concerned citizens from your local Family Policy Council.
For help finding teachers with similiar convictions on this issue, contact your local CEAI chapter (Please Note: You will have to click on “Regional Directors” to see a list of local chapters.) You may also want to create a parents group, such as Moms In Touch, as a way of organizing concerned citizens. (Also Note: Inqueery does not endorse the entire agenda of the Family Policy Councils, the Christian Educators Association, or Moms in Touch, we only link to them for networking purposes.)
Tap into Student Clubs
Sometimes the easiest way to get an ex-gay speaker on campus is to get a student club to sponsor your effort. Equal Access laws require that after school student clubs are allowed to sponsor events and bring speakers on campus. You could approach your schools gay/straight alliance or your schools religious club (such as Campus Crusade or FCA) and ask them if they’d be willing to sponsor an ex-gay speaker. Tapping into a student group that already exists on campus is much easier than trying to start your own ex-gay student group, as some have attempted to do.
Inform the Local Religious Institutions and Community Groups
Often times communities of faith have strong feelings about the issue of homosexuality in the schools. Write or call local priests, rabbis, or youth pastors and let them know what’s going on in your school. Sometimes youth pastors can pass out ex-gay literature to their youth group to distribute on the school campus.
Inform the Local Community
Write a Letter to the editor of your local newspaper and call TV and radio station managers to see if they would do a story. Remember, don’t discuss the “evils of the gay agenda” or recite from religious texts. Keep the story focused on the need for diversity in education and the importance of presenting both sides of an issue. I recommend enclosing a copy of The Homophobia Stops Here with all media correspondance. It describes the conflict that has taken place in the schools in a way that is easy for most to understand.
Know Your School’s Policies
Often times a school’s conduct or method of addressing the issue of homosexuality on campus is in violation of one or more school policies. Knowing your school’s policies can help you make an effective case for introducing the ex-gay perspective into your school, and can also help you fight against the mistreatment of those who may disagree with homosexuality on moral or religious grounds, or who choose not to participate in certain GSA sponsored activities, such as the Day of Silence.
For example, a Wisconsin schools’ policy prohibits “staff promotion of specific political parties, ideologies, candidates, political action groups, and groups with specific political agendas; and class activities which promote political activism for such groups and ideologies; without equitable discussion of merits of other parties, ideologies, candidates and perspectives (and sometimes with denigration of such other entities), and without comparable support of students with differing ideologies, and without equitable efforts to promote alternative perspectives.”
This policy prohibits teachers from (1. Bringing partisan and candidate materials into classrooms during class time and direcing students to take the materials. (2. Conducting class discussions promoting, supporting or endorsing a particular party, ideology, or candidate, without balanced time or discussion of other parties, ideologies or candidates. (3. Making denigrating remarks regarding a particular political view, candidate or party; or permit other students to make derogatory remarks during class discussion, without challenge or other perspectives offered, resulting in viewpoint discrimination.
Examples of this policy being violated include:
1- An anti-war march and demonstration in April, 2003 where some activities were listed as being sponsored by a student club; however, all activities were promoted and discussed by multiple staff during class times without balanced discussion of alternative perspectives (benefits of military service, benefits of US involvement in global affairs, etc.).
2- The Day of Silence, and other instructor-led and staff-supported activities that promoted one-sided perspectives on homosexuality (such as Coming Out Day). In such activitives there was no comparable emphasis on the ex-gay perspective or on the ridicule that ex-gays face, or on the ridicule that those who oppose homosexuality on moral or religious grounds faced becuase they choose not to participate in the Day of Silence. In some cases, these events are sponsored and promoted by political activist groups outside the school. These groups often have specific political affiliations and goals. There were lengthy announcements by teachers during classes, promoting student participation in the Day of Silence, a few teachers refused to speak and prohibited their students from speaking during class times; even those students who did not desire to participate in the Day of Silence. Several teachers discriminated against students who did not participate in the Day of Silence and labeled non-participants as “gay-bashers”, “intolerant”, or “ignorant.”
(Please note: These examples are intended for illustrative purposes only, each school has it’s own unique set of policies. Also note: Inqueery is not against the ideas behind the Day of Silence, we our only against using the Day of Silence to persecute students who don’t hold the same viewpoint on homosexuality as those who organized the event. The Day of Silence should be used to unite people, not to divide them!)
The school being used as an example here was able to take this list of violations to their school board and request the following remedies:
1. Provision of an open forum at a Board meeting, in the near future, to hear citizen’s questions and concerns.
2. Staff in-service meetings to inform staff of consistent applications of Board policy regarding strategies for balancing perspectives on controversial issues and the rights of religious expression in classes for students and of staff.
3. Opportunity to address equal access concerns by providing resources to address the ex-gay perspective.
4. Knowledge that the school board and school administrators have a clear understanding and communication of what topics and activities require parental notification and consent, and the means by which the request and approval of consent is given.
5. Provision of additional forums in which parents and students can express concerns and recommendations openly with staff and administration.
6. Equitable application of resources and administrative efforts for advancing clubs and groups that provide a balance of views on issues, and restriction on club or staff promotion of specific sexual content. (For example, if anti-war and conscientious objector speakers are brought in, it is expected that administration would work diligently to bring in speakers with alternate views on military presence and service, or strongly support clubs that could do so. Likewise, if gay rights events are held, also bring in ex-gay speakers and those who hold traditional views on homosexuality.
In other words, the school should promote forums for student interaction, discussion, and critical thinking on these issues, rather than divisive, one-sided, indoctrination on issues.
Click Here for an excellent letter that illustrates the ways in which school policies are sometimes violated as homosexuality is addressed in schools. Click Here to watch Chad Thompson respond to the Day of Silence on a college campus in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (You must have Windows Media Player).
Thanks to Kathy Mentinck and David Williams for their help with this!
Last Updated 4-4-06
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