As battles rage across the country in school systems over sexual orientation policies the National School Boards Association (NSBA) meeting put in their two cents worth with a late afternoon session on Saturday titled “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual , and Transgender Issues in Schools: The Changing Landscape in Legal and Practical Terms-Are You Ready?” The speaker was Judy Hoff, the Safe Schools Coordinator for the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays or PFLAG for short.
Just to make sure attendees knew what was going to be discussed the program book ran the following description of the session;
Schools have long been places of relentless hostility toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender students. Many are now opting not to build closets as a reflexive survival response, as have generations past. Schools are being compelled to grapple with this reality. This session provides participants the grounding and resources they need in this quickly evolving area to navigate the social, curricular, and legal complexities. The format includes lecture, PowerPoint, group discussion and role-playing.
Relentless hostility? If anything thanks to groups like PFLAG and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network) gay students have become one of the most protected class of students and heterosexuals are the ones facing hostility when they are labeled homophobes should they utter any word that can be remotely interpreted as being hateful.
Hoff quickly ran through her PowerPoint presentation where she cited mostly unidentified surveys of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT) students not feeling safe, performing poorly in schools compared to other students and that for every GLBT student who is bullied, four straight students are bullied because someone perceives them to be GLBT. It sure makes for a more powerful presentation when you can point out students who are perceived as gay are being bullied more than the gay students themselves even if she didn’t cite any specific cases where this occurred.
According to Hoff teachers are also facing challenges in dealing with GLBT issues. She said their surveys indicated that teachers are often reluctant to attend community events that may label them as supportive of GLBT students and fear for their jobs should they stand up for GLBT students in their classrooms or in the halls are among the more serious problems. There was no mention of the very strong protection afforded teachers by their unions and that there is scant evidence of teachers being fired for being pro-gay.
During the question and answer session Hoff complained about the Ex-Gay movement. In discussing the formation of Gay Straight Alliance clubs at schools she said she encounters the argument that students should be given an alternative to know that they can change. She dismisses this by saying that the Ex-Gay position is not safe, not scientific and not supported by the medical community. Just don’t tell that to the people who have resumed a heterosexual lifestyle.
Then in response to a question about how many high school students are probably GLBT Hoff said 2-4% is a reliable number. That’s a small number. But Hoff wouldn’t end it there. She added immediate family members who may be GLBT which pushes the figure to 50% and on top of that adds in those that are perceived to be gay and comes up with a figure of 90% of students who are affected by GLBT issues. There’s that word again “perceived”. Exactly how did they come up with the perceived number? What’s more disturbing than the inflated numbers Hoff cited was that the educators in attendance didn’t flinch and took it as a solid fact.
Hoff was very confident during her presentation until questions about same-sex bullying (i.e. lesbian gangs assaulting innocent girls) came up or when asked what are parents supposed to do if they don’t want their child sharing a room on a field trip with an openly gay student. Her answer was that there needs to be more dialogue as she recoiled from the fact that there are parents who are afraid to ask for this separation for fear of being labeled homophobes.
The fact is that gay students and their supporters are driving the agenda thanks to groups like the NSBA who have helped foster the idea that gays are some special minority or underclass that need protection above and beyond what heterosexuals receive.
If you would like a hard copy of Hoff’s PowerPoint presentation please send me an e-mail. I will place a link to the file as soon as it becomes available online.