Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Focus on the Family is targeting anti-bullying efforts in schools, claiming that they actually push the so-called “gay agenda.” According to The Denver Post:

As kids head back to school, conservative Christian media ministry Focus on the Family perceives a bully on the playground: national gay-advocacy groups.

School officials allow these outside groups to introduce policies, curriculum and library books under the guise of diversity, safety or bullying-prevention initiatives, said Focus on the Family education expert Candi Cushman.

“We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled,” Cushman said.

This stance against anti-bullying efforts seem to be part of a larger campaign by Focus on the Family to push the inaccurate notion that “homosexuals are indoctrinating children in America’s schools.” This effort is led by Cushman by way of the site, TrueTolerance.org

The following article in the American Family Association’s One News Now goes into more detail about Cushman’s claims and efforts:

With the new school year starting up, many parents are concerned about homosexual promotion in public schools, so a prominent pro-family group is informing parents about what they can do to protect their kids.

Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink, tells OneNewsNow that one simple way to stay on top of the issue is to go to the school’s online library catalog.

“Enter key terms in the search function like ‘lesbian,’ ‘gay,’ ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’…and if you start pulling up a lot of books with homosexual themes, that’s a real red flag to you because technically, the library should reflect the school curriculum,” Cushman explains. “It’s also a place teachers can go to pull out resources for use in the classroom.”

It also seems that a major bone of contention of Cushman and Focus on the Family is a booklet which was put out by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) to be distributed to school officials entitled Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth.

The contention by Cushman and Focus on the Family is that this booklet is wrong and “one-sided.” Eliza Byard, head of GLSEN, told The Denver Post that while GLSEN thought up the idea, the booklet was actually written by a coalition of 18 medical, mental-health and education organizations.

Now to combat this, Focus on the Family has a piece on the True Tolerance site called  Just The Real Facts Please which supposedly gives a refutation of the GLSEN booklet. Just The Real Facts Please is a part of a packet that parents are encouraged to give to school officials.

But it’s obvious that Focus on the Family didn’t research its facts well. Three errors stick out greatly.

On page 22 is this claim:

According to a scientific article published in the journal Pediatrics, nearly 26 percent of 12-year-olds are unsure about their sexuality. The study showed that this uncertainty diminished significantly in older age groups. So pushing a particular sexual agenda onto children during this vulnerable time period is irresponsible, and can even amount to taking emotional advantage of youth.

The article in question is from Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. And on more than one occasion, Remafedi has complained about how it was being distorted.

Another distortion is the following on page 17:

Dr. Robert Spitzer, a pro-gay ally and former APA (American Psychiatric Association) Fellow–as well as a Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of Biometrics at Columbia University–published his study of 200 men and women who had reported some change “from homosexual to heterosexual orientation that lasted at least five years.” He found that “almost all of the participants reported substantial changes in the core aspects [of] sexual orientation, not merely overt behavior.” He also noted that “participants reported benefit from nonsexual changes, such as decreased depression.”

The problem with this citation is that Cushman omitted the fact that Spitzer later continuously complained that his work was being distorted. In addition, in a 2006 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Spitzer said that he now believes that some of those he interviewed for his study may have been either lying to him or themselves. – Ex-Gays Seek a Say in Schools, Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2006

But the most egregious error in Cushman’s piece, and it’s an error that says a lot not only about her mindset but that of Focus on the Family, is the following:

According to the medical and psychological experts writing in the Handbook of Child and Adolescent Sexual Problems, “The consequences of choices made with the advantage of developmental maturity are preferable to those consequences resulting from decisions made impulsively, in the absence of adequate knowledge, or without the moderating benefit of maturity. The latter choices will, of course, be imperfect, but the former regularly result in personal and social consequences that are painful, destructive, and not fully reversible.”

And just who are these experts? A quick look at the endnotes tells us the following:

Lundy, M.D., M.S., Michael S. and George A. Rekers, Ph.D., Fellow of the Academy of Clinical Psychology. “Homosexuality: Development, Risks, Parental Values, and Controversies,” Handbook of Child and Adolescent Sexual Problems, Ed. George A. Rekers, New York: Lexington Books, 1995, p.290.

You read that right. Our “beloved” solicitor of “luggage lifters,” George Rekers.

Even after the scandal involving the rentboy and the knowledge that his very presence at anti-gay judicial cases almost ensures victories of the lgbt community (due to the fact that judges don’t find him credible), Cushman and Focus on the Family still think of him as a credible source when it comes to lgbt issues.

The big irony is that Cushman contends that Focus on the Family wants to establish an anti-bullying program to help all students. I find that hard to believe on so many levels. The citation of Rekers as a reliable source is one reason. The entire campaign in general is another.

If they don’t want schools to acknowledge lgbts, how can they talk about protecting lgbt youth?

Author’s note – Focus on the Family isn’t the only right-wing group seeking to influence America’s schools through inaccurate information on the lgbt community. In March, the American College of Pediatricans, a shell group of phony anti-gay data, sent out information to school officials about a website featuring junk science and legitimate studies taken out of context. The organization received numerous rebukes for the false data.

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