The Exodus media blog on Oct. 4. promoted an antigay tirade by Richard Mullenax of TheRealityCheck.org.
By failing to check the facts behind the polemics, and by reprinting others’ misinformation without comment or counterpoint, Exodus put itself in the position of defending a Kentucky school district with a history of unmitigated violence toward students who are perceived to be gay.
Exodus’ headline parrots Mullenax’s message:
ACLU: View Homosexual Film or School District Will Be Taken to Court
The incendiary text promoted by Exodus:
“The American Civil Liberties Union… is threatening to take Kentucky’s Boyd County School District to court if it doesn’t find a way to force all of its students to participate in “tolerance training.”… When the ACLU wanted tolerance, it meant tolerance towards homosexuality…District figures illustrates 105 of 730 middle school students opted out of the training video and 145 of 971 high school students did, too. On the day scheduled for training, 324 students didn’t show up… James Esseks, litigation director for the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project says: “The schools have great latitude in what they want to teach, including what’s in training programs, and the training is now part of the school curriculum.” Esseks goes on to say, “Parents don’t get to say ‘I don’t want you to teach evolution or this, that, or whatever else.’ ‘If parents don’t like it they can homeschool, they can go to a private school, they can go to a religious school. ” -Richard Mullenax, TheRealityCheck.org
Exodus withheld from its readers the following pertinent facts, courtesy of the Kentucky ACLU:
The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to reopen a lawsuit it brought two years ago on behalf of several students who had sought to form a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at Boyd County High School. In a motion filed today, the ACLU points to failures by the school district to keep up its end of the agreement to provide a mandatory training focused on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.
“The Boyd County Board of Education agreed to take specific steps in settling this lawsuit, because it knew that anti-gay harassment is rampant in its schools,” said Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney with the national ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “But this school district’s attempts at providing a training have been laughably inadequate gestures that show no real commitment to honoring the agreement or protecting its students.”
Last year’s settlement agreement came a few months after Judge David Bunning of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky issued a preliminary injunction against the school for blocking formation of the GSA. In that ruling, the judge noted several examples of harassment in the school, including students in an English class stating that they needed to “take all the fucking faggots out in the back woods and kill them.”
Part of the settlement agreement called for the school district to conduct a mandatory anti-harassment training for all district staff as well as all students in high school and middle school. In papers filed today with the court, the ACLU outlined the district’s failings in meeting the spirit of this agreement:
- The school allowed students to “opt out” of what was supposed to be a mandatory training session, letting half the student body skip the training. At the high school, only 502 of the 965 students attended the training, and at the middle school, only 462 of the 730 students attended. The only consequence for those students who “opted out” was a slap on the wrists – they received a single unexcused absence, making them ineligible to get perfect attendance for the school year.
- Although the school agreed to conduct a one-hour training focused on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination for all middle and high school students, the training video the school showed to students to satisfy this requirement included barely 10 minutes’ worth of content that directly addressed these issues.
Read more of the ACLU’s press release, or learn about the ACLU’s cases against violence and unmitigated harassment in Boyd County, Ky., schools:
Here’s news (via 365gay.com) of another high school, in Madison County, Georgia, where enraged parents are seeking to ban formation of an already-popular club to foster co-existence among gay and straight students.