Thursday, March 06, 2008

The anti-gay industry beats up on Deerfield High School (again)

Last year (last year this month in fact), members of the anti-gay industry attacked a high school in Illinois, claiming that not only was it "indoctrinating" students into homosexuality, but also that it was "forcing" students to sign a confidentiality agreement to keep said indoctrination from being found out by their parents. Here are the facts:

At Deerfield High School, there is a program that is geared to helping students adjust to high school. One component of this program is a panel discussion that includes speakers from the school's gay/straight alliance. These students talk about such things as being bullied because of their orientation.

Parents were able to opt their children out of the program.

The alleged "confidentiality agreement" was an agreement between the students that they would not discuss the program with other students who did not attend. The agreement said nothing about keeping details from parents. It is as follows:


Every person keeps what comes up in class confidential, unless it is dangerous to do so - that is unless a situation in class requires us to get outside help.

We do not repeat what someone says in class outside of class except if we have permission of the person that said it.

We will not continue a conversation outside of class without permission from all the people that were involved during the class.

Bottom line: What happens in our classroom stays in our classroom.

Exceptions to the confidentiality in which case (the teacher's name - I will not repeat it) will get outside help are:

If someone in the class reports being hurt;

If someone reports that they are hurting someone else; or

If someone reports that they are hurting or want to hurt themselves

The agreement was a part of a larger list of rules those participating in the program agreed to follow. Other rules included courtesy and respect for other expressed opinions.

Now omitting (who are we kidding - ignoring) these facts, Peter LaBarbera and other members of the anti-gay industry made a huge stink. As far as I know, their lies didn't get far.

So apparently they rested for a year and began attacking the high school again about another matter:

Deerfield High School outside Chicago Offers Homosexual Pornography To Students

And what is this pornography you ask?

Why it's the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, and Emmy Award winning play by Tony Kushner, Angels in America.

Neither Peter nor the group he is supporting in this matter (North Shore Student Advocacy) is giving details as to what exactly is going on. All they are saying is that the school is giving homosexual pornography to students via English classes.

Which is ironic because they are encouraging parents and others to write in to complain based on the miniscule degree of information they are providing them.

And to back up their "claims," they have included graphic portions of the play.

It reminds me of what young girls used to do to Judy Blume's Forever when I was in middle school.

Angels in America is not pornography. It is a thought-provoking moving series of plays about the beginning of the AIDS crisis. And the only problem Peter and company have is with the gay aspect.

In digging more, I found the following information:

The books were part of required reading until NSSA filed a formal complaint with the school, asking the books to be reviewed by committee. The committee decided to remove the books from required reading but continued to offer them in the classroom as an optional title. “Optional Title,” according to the principal, means that the student may select the books to study with peers and be guided by the adult, male teacher. A parental permission slip will be required but without full disclosure of the sexually explicit content. This conclusion is unacceptable to the complaining parent and to NSSA. They are asking that this pornographic book be removed from curriculum completely.

After contacting the State’s Attorney’s office of Lake County, Illinois, they deemed the books “obscene” according to Illinois obscenity laws, violating the “distributing harmful materials to minors” statute. But, state and federal obscenity laws exempt schools and libraries under “affirmative defense” so it becomes impossible to prosecute a teacher or school.

So apparently Peter and company didn't let folks know that the books are optional titles. Can you say censorship?

What's next? To Kill a Mockingbird because it contains racism? Or how about The Chocolate War because of it's unhappy ending?

No doubt folks will try to use this to not only censor high schools but to attack lgbts yet again.

To me, that is the real travesty.

I commend Deerfield for standing firm last year and I hope that the high school will not be bullied this year.

UPDATE: I have just rejected a comment by someone who thought it was thought-provoking to post the graphic comments of Angels in America I alluded to earlier in this post.

I rejected it for two reasons. First, the attempt to get a viceral reaction from me is immature.

The second and most important - to illustrate just why the moral panic over this situation is not necessary. Just as I was able to reject those comments, students were not required to read Angels in America. It was an option.

Again, I repeat, no one was forcing the students to read Angels in America. That's the beauty of this country. No one can force you to do anything you don't want to do.

So to that poster who tried to leave the comment - nice try.