Anti-bullying policies are a gay conspiracy says ultra-right church

Influential Conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, wants all gay people to stop talking about child bullying, because they believe they're pushing a secret agenda to turn America's kids into homosexuals, and that is not what Jesus intended.

The church's "education expert" Candi Cushman told The Denver Post that  gay-advocacy groups have infiltrated the public discourse on bullying in America, and this just isn't fair to God-fearing Christians: "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." And while Cushman believes in bullying prevention, she says, "this issue is being hijacked by activists. They shouldn't be politicising or sexualising the issue of bully prevention."

Public schools increasingly convey that homosexuality is normal and should be accepted, Cushman said, while opposing viewpoints by conservative Christians are portrayed as bigotry.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the national Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), agrees with a big part of that statement.

"Yes, we want LGBT students afforded full respect," she said.

GLSEN says its agenda is to ensure safe schools and acceptance for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, race, national origin or ability.

"Bullying is a serious public health crisis in this country, according to no less an authority than the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services," Byard said.

About 30 per cent of American sixth-to- 10th-graders report being involved in bullying - either as a victim or bully, according to a 2008 report by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's three times more common if you're gay, Byard said. GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey found that almost nine out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students experienced harassment. Almost 61 per cent felt unsafe in school. And 22 per cent reported being physically assaulted in schools.

"The word 'faggot' is not part of any religious creed," Byard said.

Cushman founded TrueTolerance.org, which says it helps Christian parents "confront the gay agenda," which she said includes homosexual-themed curricula, books with sexually graphic content and anti-religion stereotypes, assemblies and celebrations.

Cushman said there have been several incidents in which religious freedom has lost out to the right of gay activists to promote their views. She wasn't aware of any specific problems in Colorado schools, she said, but events in Alameda, California, last year illustrate what's at stake.

An Alameda school board adopted a curriculum in 2009 that Focus says promotes homosexuality and gay marriage to elementary school kids. Parents who objected could not opt out of the lessons even if it conflicted with deeply held religious beliefs. The board said, and a judge agreed, that the curriculum was mandatory because of state and local policies regarding student safety and non-discrimination.

New York based media news and celebrity gossip website Gawker have also reported on Focus on the Family and their antipathy towards the gay community. The organisation was founded in 1977 by controversial evangelical author and psychologist Dr James C Dobson, who once offered these tips on raising a fine young American boy:

Meanwhile, the boy's father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son's maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.

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