BOSTON — Brian Camenker didn't expect his son's first-grade teacher to transform “The Frog Prince” into a fable about homosexual relationships.
But the Massachusetts software developer soon learned that his district's schools had adopted a plan to use “teachable moments” to portray homosexual relationships as the equivalent of marriage. His son's teacher used the children's story as an opportunity to tell his students that he was homosexual and, as Camenker put it, “He could love a man like their mother and father loved each other.”
Stories like Camenker's could become more common after the National Education Association holds its annual meeting this July. The nation's largest teachers’ union will vote on a proposal to promote “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Education.”
The proposal would affirm that the NEA “believes in efforts” to:
► "Support gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students and address the high drop out rate, suicide rate, and health risk behaviors.”
► Recognize “the importance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender education employees as role models.”
► Offer “accurate portrayal of the roles and contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people throughout history.”
► Include “the contributions, heritage, culture, and history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people” in curricula.
► Coordinate school programs with “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organizations and concerned agencies that promote the contributions, heritage, culture, history, health and care of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people.”
Kathleen Lyons, a spokeswoman for the union, said that she could not comment on the resolution because it has not yet been considered by the membership and is not NEA policy. She could not address questions on what the proposal might require of schools, or answer concerns of parents who oppose homosexual activism.
But recent suggestions from California's Department of Education may offer hints as to what compliance with the NEA proposal would entail. After the California legislature passed a law adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the characteristics protected from discrimination in schools, the department recommended ways to enforce the policy.
Suggestions included discussing homosexuals in history, displaying images of homosexuals and bisexuals on classroom walls, and establishing “a clear rest room policy” for students who have had sex-change operations.
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which has pushed for similar curriculum changes, offers several examples of programs that promote acceptance of homosexual acts and activism. For example, the organization's Web site suggests that teachers stock books like Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin , about a young girl who lives with her father and his homosexual partner.
The Web site also suggests that teachers tell students that same-sex couples can get married even though “there are currently no states where their marriages will be legally recognized.” Teachers may also give students a list of churches, synagogues and other religious bodies that perform “gay marriages.”
For October, which homosexual-activist groups have designated “Gay and Lesbian History Month,” theWeb site recommends that teachers create bulletin board displays such as “Famous Lesbians,” or teach research skills by assigning students to interview local homosexuals about their lives.
Camenker offered other examples of pro-homosexual education, promoted by his local NEA affiliate. One fourth-grade music class was taught that Tchaikovsky would not have committed suicide if society had accepted his homosexuality. A sixth-grade teachers’ guide for the “Living and Learning” curriculum included graphic descriptions of homosexual acts, Camenker said.
Camenker protested to the teachers, the principals and the school board. He now runs the Parents’ Rights Coalition.
He encouraged other parents, “Go to classes. Be room mothers. Walk down the halls and see what's on the boards.”
Camenker suggested going to the school board with any complaints, because “they're elected, and they have to listen to you.” His group eventually pushed a parental notification bill to victory, requiring that schools inform parents of any sexual education classes. This year, he hopes to pass a bill that will make all such classes “opt in,” meaning that students will only attend the classes if their parents specifically request them.
The schools have “gotten worse slower,” rather than gotten better, he said. But one of the coalition's members reported that at a local homosexual activist conference, attendees were complaining that they could not promote homosexuality as much “because of the parents.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls homosexuals to chastity and says that “under no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved,” in part because sacred Scripture presents them as “acts of grave depravity” (No. 2357). It also counsels “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” for homosexual persons, saying, “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (No 2358).
This isn't the first time a homosexual-education proposal has come before the teachers union. In 1996, after a public-relations uproar, the union dropped its support for Gay and Lesbian History Month.
The union's assembly initially passed a resolution supporting Gay and Lesbian History Month and calling on teachers to “acknowledge the contributions of lesbians, gays and bisexuals throughout history.” But Concerned Women for America alerted union members, who protested and even threatened resignation. Concerned Women's Wendy Wright added that some local union chapters even voted to rescind the resolution.
That hasn't stopped the union from trying again.
No matter how the July meeting turns out, the NEA's critics charge that it has become a partisan political lobby, representing Democratic Party interests rather than teachers, parents and students.
Some of those critics are former union members. Cindy Omlin resigned from the union in 1992 “in order to protect my right not to fund political agendas that I found immoral.” Omlin, who worked as an elementary-school speech patholo-gist in the Spokane, Wash., school district until 1996, especially objected to the NEA's pro-abortion and homosexual activist stances.
Omlin now works with an alternative teachers group, a growing movement of teachers who reject the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers.
Gary Beckner, executive director of the Association of American Educators, said that many of the teachers who seek out his group cite NEA “partisanship” as one of their reasons for leaving the union.
As Beckner notes, the alternative unions aren't going to pass a proposal for “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Education.”