Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization known for its vocal opposition of so-called "homosexual activist groups," has released a new "Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick" in partnership with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The document aims to help parents and teachers evaluate their anti-bullying policies and make sure the rights of all are protected.
However, analysis by ThinkProgress concludes the Yardstick may feature "an elaborate scheme to ensure religious bullying is protected in schools while students most likely to be targeted for harassment are made more vulnerable," namely, LGBT students.
For its part, the legal team at the ADF has not hidden its belief that schools are often influenced into adopting policies that promote a gay-friendly agenda. These activist groups "dupe schools into adopting policies that protect students based on their 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity,' which can unconstitutionally silence students who want to express their biblically-based views on sexuality," ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco told The Christian Post.
Organized into the top 10 "most common components of anti-bullying policies," the paper goes through the "bad" and "good" ways to address the various issues.
In a section headlined, "First Amendment Protection," the Yardstick warns that policies must include an exemption for "religious, political, philosophical, or other protected student speech." This is potentially problematic for LGBT-related bullying instances however, as anti-gay speech is often justified by religious beliefs.
Focus on the Family has fought for similar religious exemption clauses in recent anti-bullying legislation, including the first draft of a Michigan bill (its clause was later removed after protests) and Tennessee's so-called "license to bully" law.
The Yardstick also admonishes educators from trying to address the motivation behind the bullying, as "such an approach opens the door to improper and unlawful attempts to 're-educate' students."
This may contradict an April survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that concluded schools "with an LGBT-inclusive curriculum is related to a less-hostile school experience for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth as well as increased feelings of belonging."
Schools should never require teachers to report bullying, the Yardstick continues, lest they "over-report." Policies should ignore anonymous complaints and instances of cyberbullying, and private schools should always be made exempt, the document continues.
The Yardstick also devotes space to an issue that has long been a Focus on the Family rallying cry: the influence of the homosexual agenda.
Visitors to group TrueTolerance.org's site are greeted by the question, "Concerned about homosexual advocacy in your child’s school?"
The Colorado-based organization is known for fighting to keep LGBT-friendly language out of the classroom, as in the instance of an California school board that adopted an anti-bullying program which specifically mentioned gays and lesbians, ABC News reports.
In keeping with this theme, the policy Yardstick warns parents and teachers that extending protections to certain "favored students" allows for "the advancement of the political agenda of homosexual activist groups." By the same token, policies that "require instruction on bullying are problematic" and often include "materials promoting homosexual behavior."
Of course, it ultimately may be less an issue of political agenda and more a response to factual analysis. According to GLSEN,nine out of every 10 LGBT students have been harassed by their peers at school.