You know when you’re watching a Ben Stiller movie and you can tell they’re starting another 5 minutes of unbelievably embarassing stunts? And you start to feel a little squirmy watching it? That’s kind of the way I feel when I hear about politicians speaking out against stem cell research and how acclaimed scientists are starting to leave the U.S. so that they can do stem cell research in Canada and Europe… Or when a town in my very own state decides to go on a witch hunt. That’s embarassing, too:
So apparently some parents in Farmington, MN are pretty upset over a group that is helping the middle school organize a “No Name-Calling Week.” The reason these parents are upset? The group, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is a non-profit that works with students to promote tolerance for gay and lesbian students
Ummmm…WHAT?! I know I’m a classic liberal living comfortably in my bubble, but who on earth would have a problem with this? Do you think the GLSEN organizers (who aren’t even going to BE THERE for the program) are going to run in there with their “How to be Gay” pamphlets and “The Bible is Wrong” handouts? Maybe even just *touching* their materials will make your children gay!!
Apparently there is some sort of drama involving a district staff member that was mentioned in the board meeting…Excerpt: When Kiefer spoke, the school board tried to get him to stop talking because of concerns he would violate personnel privacy laws by mentioning the name of a specific district staff member. When he refused to stop, they had him escorted from the building by Farmington police.
I’m guessing this staff member is gay and therefore trying to push his/her “gay agenda” — you know, the usual stuff. ARRGH!! How ironic that some parent felt the need to NAME-CALL at the board meeting about this program designed to REDUCE NAME-CALLING. Perhaps if the group organizing this was oh, maybe, North American Man/Boy Love Association, you might have a case. Otherwise, you are obviously a big ol’ homophobe and doing a terrible job of trying to cover up your homophobia by expressing concern over “negative associations” within the school district.
Phew, OK. Here is the whole article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Parents protest school event’s tie to gay-rights group
Parents have raised concerns after discovering that “NoName-Calling Week” at Farmington Middle School East is organized by a gay-rights group.
A seemingly innocuous event scheduled at Farmington Middle School East this week ran into some unexpected opposition recently when parents raised concerns about its connection to a gay-rights education group.
Farmington Middle School East’s “No Name-Calling Week,” met the ire of some parents when they learned the national event is organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a New York-based nonprofit that works with student groups to promote tolerance for gay and lesbian students.
The week educates students at the sixth- and seventh-grade school about the consequences of name-calling and how to deal with it when they experience it.
Parents had objections about the school associating with a political group, as well as a group that “promotes the gay and lesbian agenda for K-12 students,” according to parent Michael Monroe Kiefer.
“We don’t have a problem with the concept of no-bullying,” said Kiefer, who has a daughter at the school. “We understand that’s a problem, but we don’t like the association that the school is having with GLSEN.”
The school’s decision to participate in “No Naming-Calling Week” came partly from seventh-grade counselor Andrea Myers. As an intern at a middle school near Mankato that participated last year, Myers said she was impressed by the wealth of ideas suggested by the organization.
Principal Barbara Duffrin said the school decided to proceed with the event after a December survey of its 800 students revealed that 75 percent said they were victims of name-calling at least once or twice a week.
Daryl Presgraves, a spokesman for GLSEN, said 164 Minnesota educators requested information about this year’s program, although he doesn’t know how many are participating. But he said he has heard of no other objection similar to that raised in Farmington.
The network is New York-based and calls itself the “leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students.”
It is registered as a nonprofit, not a political action committee, which means it is limited to educational efforts, rather than direct participation in a political campaign or lobbying of elected officials.
In Farmington, the school made its own lesson plans for the week, including material explaining the harmful consequences of bullying and name-calling. The program includes 15 student leaders who helped make posters for the week.
Duffrin said the parents of three student leaders requested their children not participate because of objections to the network’s involvement.
“We believe that the needs of the students would be better served by the … program being conducted independent of involvement with an agenda-specific group such as GLSEN,” said parent Justine Jacobson, who also spoke at a recent school board meeting.
Meeting heats up
Tempers over the issue started to flare at the school board’s first meeting in January.
A group of about five parents had met with Superintendent Brad Meeks and Duffrin three days earlier.
Miffed with the district’s refusal to change the name or date of the event (to remove any association with the network), the group decided to air concerns before the board.
When Kiefer spoke, the school board tried to get him to stop talking because of concerns he would violate personnel privacy laws by mentioning the name of a specific district staff member. When he refused to stop, they had him escorted from the building by Farmington police.
The controversy caught school officials by surprise, said Duffrin. She said the school decided not to rename or reschedule the week because “we’re not sure why it matters who came up with the good idea.”
“We don’t want to forgo a quality opportunity because of this feeling that this organization is promoting something other than safe schools,” she said.
Staff writer Dan Wascoe contributed to this report.