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Safe Schools: We must protect them from unsafe 'pro-family' negligence!

by Jeremy Hooper

Here's the administration of Oak Park, Illinois' Beye Elementary defending their decision to support a welcoming environment for all students, regardless or race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity/expression:


And here's a local news report explaining why these kinds of protections are worth public concern:


If you don't want to/can't watch the videos: Well, the whole thing is exactly what you'd think. LGBT students are often targeted (duh!). Responsible administrators want to protect these kids (of course!). And regardless of personal religious views, these are public schools we are talking about, where one's individual interpretation of Leviticus cannot, should not, and will not be used as reason for turning a blind eye to this overwrought bullying epidemic (not difficult to understand, if you try!).

Oh, but these (no-brainer) ideas don't fly with Candi Cushman, Focus on the Family, and all those older kids who use carefully masked and padded intramural Smear The Queer matches as Evangelical Club fundraisers. To resist what they see as an onslaught, FOtF has highlighted one local parent, Tammy Schulz, who they're now using as a spokesperson to oppose these kinds of nondiscrimination efforts, as well as supporting groups like GLSEN and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.

First up: Here's a recent appearance from the radio show of the unabashedly anti-gay Janet Parshall, wherein Candi and Tammy team up to stop what they ever-so-insufferably say is "bullying against a [faith-based] value system":


(click to play audio clip)

(click to play audio clip)

*SOURCE: In the Market with Janet Parshall, 5/17/2010

Then also, in this month's Citizen magazine (FoTF's publication), Schulz is again used as the martyr meant to derail those protections that pertain to LGBT students:

*SOURCE: Citizen magazine [FOtF]

FOtf also says they've filmed "an in-depth interview" with Schulz, which they will be airing in the next few days. So clearly they're making her the new David Parker or Robin Wirthlin, and they'll likely continue to use this, one minority-held (and wholly faith-based) opinion, as a way of derailing peaceful public school protections across the nation. Because that's what these folks do: They pinpoint a story and they drill, baby, drill it into any and everyone's eyes and ears. Repeat it long enough, and maybe it'll become true.

It's time for our parents to step up and tell their stories. We of course have the incredibly sad tale like that of Sirdeaner Walker, whose son killed himself because of the harassment he endured:

But we also have the everyday stories of countless allies who would not think twice about supporting LGBT inclusion. I know these people -- I was at a birthday party yesterday afternoon with fifty or more parents who easily and non-controversially introduce their children to me and my husband without batting an eye, much less battling a bill. We need *ALL* of these folks to step up and tell their stories. This issue, in particular, is one where straight allies have the ability to come out and shine. We must be just as aggressive about locating our voices as our opposition is in promoting their carefully hand-picked "victims"!!!

For too long, we've accepted certain clich├ęs about public schooling. This, the tale of the "different" kid treading through hallways of hell, is one that we can end in our lifetimes. That's a smart legacy to have on one's lifetime report card.

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