The Thames Valley District school board in London, Ontario was considering expanding its safe schools program to include gay and lesbian students.

A parents group, STOP (Simply Truths Our Priority) objected by presenting a 300-page compilation of Internet “research”. One of the pieces of evidence cited was “’98 Homosexual-Recruitment Drive Nearing Goal” from well-known satire source, The Onion. An excerpt:

“Straight people don’t have any fun,” said Teddy Nance, 11, after watching Breeders Are Boring!, an anti-heterosexual filmstrip, in his fifth-grade class at Crestwood Elementary School in Roanoke, VA. “Gay people get to do whatever they want.”

The photo from The Onion, in which a fifth-grader teacher has diagrammed anal sex, earned front-and-center billing on a pamphlet circulated widely by the group, drawing calls for an apology from a school board trustee.

Undeterred, at least at first, the group insisted that the photo was still relevant:

“…we hold that even as a joke, the gay community is proud of their advancements into the safe schools program in the U.S.,” [Marilyn Ashworth, of STOP] said. “We don’t think homosexuality in schools is a joke.”

Asked whether she believed it was a real photo, Ashworth said the caption included the teacher’s name, city, state and grade.

“We researched in depth and that was one of the things we found,” she said, noting the group spent seven weeks accumulating research.

Anne Haight contacted the group by email and published their response at her blog, Haight Speech. They insist that “the other 296 pages of the 297 page document” are factual and footnoted, and encourage anyone with an interest in unbiased research to Google “fistgate”.

It’s tempting to write this off as a comic slip. In the real world, though, this is hardly the only time that a piece of silly satire has been cited as hard evidence.

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