Parents for Democracy in Education group questions queer curriculum in high schools

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      A fundamentalist Christian has claimed that B.C. schools are encouraging students to adopt a “dangerous” lifestyle by offering a class that covers homosexuality. Ron Gray, vice president of Parents for Democracy in Education and a former national leader of the Christian Heritage Party, states that this could end up shortening students’ life spans by 20 years.

      “The simple fact is that this behaviour is dangerous,” Gray told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “If they [students] are given information [about homosexuality], it should be a warning not to engage in it.”

      According to Gray, his group’s goal is to see the rescinding of a 2006 agreement between the Ministry of Education and Murray and Peter Corren that led to the creation of an elective course called Social Justice 12.

      The settlement was reached after the Correns complained to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that B.C. public schools discriminated against gays and lesbians by failing to provide information about them in the curriculum. The settlement granted them the right to consult with Ministry of Education officials to ensure that the school curriculum respects all sexual orientations.

      Murray Corren, who is a long-time Vancouver LGBT–rights activist, told the Straight that it’s appalling for people to harbour such animosity and homophobia over an agreement that’s aimed at creating a more positive school environment for all children.

      “The world hasn’t come to an end,” Corren said in a phone interview. “I think it’s lamentable that people haven’t been able to move on.”

      But Gray disagrees, and he asserted that courses like Social Justice 12 are being used by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation to manipulate students’ opinions and “drive a wedge between parents and their kids”.

      In August 2008, the Ministry of Education approved the course, which takes on a wide variety of social-justice issues, including poverty and women’s, aboriginal, and LGBT rights.

      Susan Lambert, vice president of the BCTF, told the Straight in a phone interview that there is no place in schools for kids to be living in a state of fear, and she questioned Gray’s stance on the topic.

      “Isn’t it much more dangerous for a child who has a different sexual orientation to grow up in a school where that is not respected or accepted?” she asked.

      Both Lambert and Corren agreed that courses such as Social Justice 12 will only benefit kids, and will provide critical skills for the upcoming generation to respect the differences they see in others. Meanwhile, Vancouver LGBT–rights advocate Romi Chandra Herbert told the Straight that people shouldn’t forget where the demand for this type of education is coming from. Chandra Herbert, who started the first high-school-based gay-straight alliance in B.C., explained that kids are getting frustrated with people like Gray, who pretend that homosexuality doesn’t exist.

      “It’s not the homosexuals out in the community asking for this,” he said. “It’s their own children.”

      Corren pointed out that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not allowed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He believes Canadians should be concerned when groups like Gray’s attack social-justice issues.

      Gray, however, said that a letter sent by the American College of Pediatricians to U.S. school superintendents prompted his group to take action. According to Gray, the letter said that students who experience same-sex attraction should not be told to accept that they are gay.

      Corren warned that right-wing, homophobic organizations often hide under the cloak of science and research, but Gray defended the letter, citing studies from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

      “I just wonder how many of them know that George Rekers is the man behind their cause,” Corren said.

      He was referring to George Alan Rekers, a prominent board member of NARTH who allegedly hired a young male escort through the Web site to accompany him on a European vacation.

      Gray wasn’t aware of the allegations that have been made about Rekers but was disappointed to hear the news. “When anyone’s life begins to go wrong, I feel sad for them,” he said.




      May 20, 2010 at 9:29am

      No problems with this article, per se. But a couple of points I think should be noted.

      The American College of Pediatricians is, in the words of a NYTimes columnist, "a misnomer for what is actually a political organization peddling homophobic junk-science". (See '<a href="">A Heaven-Sent Rent Boy</a>'.)

      Also, I beleive National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality actually has very close ties to the American College of Pediatricians, (sharing board members and what not,) and so cannot seriously be taken as a complimentary source for arguments pushed by the ACP.

      I understand that Ms. Elien's article alludes to these points. But I would have shoved them down readers' throats.

      13 9Rating: +4

      Sean Bickerton

      May 20, 2010 at 11:49am

      Mr. Gray and his friends may be spending too much time thinking about gay sex. It seems dangerously close to an obsession. He should be careful, as this obsession with other men having sex also unbalanced the Rev. Ted Haggard who was found consorting with male prostitutes and Mr. Rekers, another "anti-gay" campaigner who was recently found in the same situation.

      My suggestion to Mr. Gray would be to spend more time meditating and praying about Jesus' command to love and less time fantasizing about other people's sex lives.

      12 9Rating: +3


      May 20, 2010 at 12:44pm

      Homophobia leads gay people to depression and suicide. Homophobia leads to gay people being bashed and murdered. And this homophobe has the nerve to complain that gays have shorter life spans? What a fucking joke.

      Jack Black

      May 22, 2010 at 8:36pm

      This is a very correct analysis. Homosexuality does shorten lifespans. Homosexuals have greater rate of suicide usually related to abuse as children, they also have greater incidence of relationship violence, and have a vastly greater incidence of STDs like AIDS and a vastly greater incidence of drug abuse. It is nice to live in a fairytale world and ignore these facts. Children should be encouraged to develop into normal heterosexuals. Those that have problems for whatever reason should be helped in private. Having them be out and proud just endangers them further and doesn't help them deal with their sexual identity issues. It also opens them up for greater risk of molestation by gay adults or peers even though they may simply be confused by encouraging them to associate in groups and events involving gay pride. The whole thing is ridiculous. I'm an atheist and I can not believe how such a mixed up group of nuts (gay activists) have so advanced what is clearly a prurient cause.

      MIchael BArber

      May 23, 2010 at 7:28pm

      Mr. Black, prove your tenuous positions with statistics from the CDC, not NARTH or get out of the conversation. Your statement that "homosexuality does shorten lifespans" is a blatant lie. You sir, are reciting the same old lies from NARTH and the far right wing.

      Earl Waugh

      May 25, 2010 at 12:01pm

      Did no one notice the irony in the headline? Should the group not be called "Parents for Tyranny in Education"?