Focus on the Family wants school safety off the agenda

Focus on the Family is once again twisting the truth and ignoring the facts. The group recently told the Denver Post that national LGBT groups were using anti-bullying legislation to push a pro-LGBT agenda into schools around the country.

Truth: Our “agenda” is protecting our nation’s youth, and frankly, it should be that group’s agenda too.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) in early August to protect students from bullying and harassment. A companion bill (H.R. 2262) was introduced in the U.S. House in May 2009 by U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.). While Focus on the Family uses fear and false language to prevent our schools from protecting our children, we commend Sen. Casey and Rep. Sanchez for introducing legislation to ensure that all children are treated fairly in school.

SSIA requires schools receiving federal funding to prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. By mischaracterizing the purpose of anti-bullying legislation, Focus on the Family is intentionally ignoring the prevalence of bullying in schools around the country. In a 2007 study, nearly 45 percent of LGBT students surveyed reported experiencing physical harassment, while over 20 percent reported being physically assaulted at schools in the last year.

All children need protection from intolerance. Focus on Family should ask itself why it believes that cruel teasing, threats, and violent attacks should be allowed in our nation’s schools. Its campaign against important legislation such as the Safe Schools Improvement Act must be challenged. Read Sen. Casey’s response at the Huffington Post.

Spread the truth about school safety. Contact your member of Congress to encourage them to co-sponsor anti-bullying legislation. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will continue to work with GLSEN and our partners in the National Safe Schools Partnership coalition to fight for an end to bullying and other dangerous behavior in our schools.