The Illinois Family Institute, an anti-gay Christian group, is calling on parents to pull their children out of classrooms led by any teacher who supports a gay-straight alliance, uses LGBT-inclusive texts or learning materials or supports LGBT students.
In a document titled "Challenge Teachers, Not Books," the group encourages parents to "object to teachers rather than texts," offering suggestions for parents who are "fed up with the subtle and not so subtle messages that activist teachers of a liberal bent work into their classroom teaching through their classroom comments, curricular materials... and even their desks and classroom displays." From the document:
If parents have children who have already gone through the school or have already completed a year or more, they should ask those children and/or their friends or friends' parents which teachers are known for bringing their politics into the classroom or who displays a "Safe Space" sticker, the inverted pink triangle, the rainbow flag, or the lower case Greek letter "lambda" on their desk, classroom door, or wall. Students usually know who the liberal, activist teachers are. Liberal teachers develop reputations, often as the "cool" teachers.
Then parents should call or email the appropriate department chair and/or their child's counselor, and politely insist on a schedule change, explaining that they will not permit their child to be in the classroom or under the tutelage of any teacher who has made their liberal politics known in school.
Hemant Mehta, a math teacher in Naperville, Ill., writes in a Friendly Atheist blog that students don't find teachers "cool" because they're liberal activists, but because they can teach effectively, can relate to students, challenge them and motivate them to do well. He notes that IFI is merely fighting liberal teachers who keep religious beliefs out of the classroom, calling the group "hypocrites who refuse to acknowledge it." Mehta continues:
That's why IFI has to make up fake enemies. That's why they go after atheist teachers and English departments and pink triangles and lambda symbols. Because the teachers who preach atheism or Islam or Hinduism in the classroom don't exist. Preaching instead of teaching is something certain Christians do, not the rest of us.
And if you're a Christian and you agree with me, then say something about it to them. Stop being silent. It's not like they care what atheists have to say.
On the brighter note, IFI staffers won't be teaching in any public schools this fall.
But I will be.
Me and my evil, liberal, hippie, godless, proof-loving, triangle-drawing, "cool" ways.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated IFI a hate group that attacks homosexuality. In 2006, then-Executive Director Peter LaBarbera called for the repeal of all legislation that prohibits discrimination against gays, calling homosexuality "disgusting" and expressed the "need to find ways to bring back shame to those practicing homosexual behavior."
Educators and students nationwide have already shown challenges surrounding LGBT issues in schools. Last fall, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of New York made headlines after he hanged himself following years of bullying for being gay and hanging out with girls.
The teen's suicide followed a poignant "It Gets Better" video in which he told his story and encouraged other bullied gay and lesbian teenagers.
In a separate incident in Pennsylvania, Harrisburg teacher Sharon Wright has filed a lawsuit against Covenant Christian Academy. In her suit, she claims that the administration suspended her son for being gay and fired her for not forcing him to renounce the "sin."
"Your son is broken," school board member Rich Raynor reportedly told Wright. "And it's your job to fix him."
Subsequent harassment through the year led to anxiety and depression. According to the complaint, school officials told Wright to take a year "to heal" and was denied a contract renewal.
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